For several years, cocoa has remained the mainstay of the country’s economy. Substantial revenue has been derived from the cocoa sector, making it possible for the promotion of socio-economic development in various parts of the country.
In recent times, however, the level of production of the cash crop has dwindled to abysmally low level. The fall in production has been attributed to certain factors.
One such factor is illegal mining which is now widespread in various parts of the country. Many young men and women engaged in illegal mining are able to influence cocoa farmers to allow them to use their farmlands for mining. Thus, instead of cocoa farming the farmlands are left for use by the illegal miners.
A second reason for the fall in cocoa production is attributed to price volatility on the world market. It is said that the continuous fall of cocoa price on the world market plays a key role in discouraging increase in the cocoa production.
A third factor that adversely affects cocoa production is the allegation of corruption at COCOBOD. This means that if COCOBOD can sit up and streamline or straighten up matters, the output of cocoa in the country can go high again.
It is against this unpleasant background that President Akufo-Addo has stated government’s commitment to raise the country’s cocoa production to one million tonnes.
Raising the production of cocoa to one million tonnes or even beyond is possible but it will mean that the activities of the illegal miners would have to be curtailed from influencing cocoa farmers to give up their farmlands in preference for use by illegal miners.
What we need to do here is to make cocoa farming more attractive than illegal mining and, thereby, discouraging the use of the latter from being a preferred choice to anyone.
Furthermore, to be able to reverse price volatility on the world market, it is necessary for government to make efforts to process a substantial amount of the cocoa beans produced in the country. Thus, it is heart-warming to hear from the President that efforts will be made to process more than 50 per cent of the cocoa beans produced locally and find new markets to improve the country’s standing in the cocoa value chain.
One important issue that ought to be addressed is the allegation of corruption at COCOBOD. If this is done, it will encourage our cocoa farmers to work hard to raise the level of production to the target of one million tonnes or even beyond.
The nation is, therefore, calling for the effective and efficient management of COCOBOD to see how affairs will be handled to positively influence the expected increase in output in the cocoa sector.
This is what the nation is yearning for in order to help put back the economy of Ghana on its feet. Ghana, after 60 years of political independence, has come of age and should do all she can to guard against any fall in cocoa output.
It is unfortunate that things have been allowed to go on over the years to the detriment of cocoa production in the country. The good news, however, is that the problem can be overcome.
The earlier we work hard in arresting the challenges or obstacles in the cocoa sector the better it will be for the economy of Ghana as a whole.