Cocoa farmers from 12 cocoa cooperative unions and associations in Ghana have called on the government to increase the farm gate price for cocoa beans to make up for the rising cost of production.
They said the continued rise in the cost of farm inputs such as fertilisers, pesticides and farm machinery as well as the cost of labour were affecting cocoa production, causing them to lose huge sums of money.
“We call on the government to intervene to make farm inputs readily accessible and available to enable us to increase our yields as well as make enough profits to cater for our families,” they said.
The cocoa farmers made the clarion call at a conference organised for them in Kumasi by SEND Ghana, with support from its German partners, INKOTA and SUDWIND.
The event was used to discuss issues bothering on the income and human rights of the farmers in the cocoa sector as catalyst for ensuring improved welfare of cocoa farmers.
It also created the platform for participants to deliberate on ways to increase government and private sector responsiveness to sustain the cocoa sector.
The cooperatives who participated in the event were Cocoa Mmaa, Biakoye Cooperative Farmers Union, Cocoa Life Suhum Union, Seftwi Bekwai Cocoa Farmers Association, Asetenapa Cooperative from Suhum, and Kuapa Kooko.
The rest were Concerned Cocoa Farmers Association, World Cocoa Farmers Organisation, Cocoa Abrabopa, Onua Do Na Eye Cocoa Farmers Cooperative from Praso, Twifo and Heman, Obaatanpa Cocoa Farmers Cooperative, Nyamebekyere Cocoa Farmers’ Cooperative and Nyame Ye Adom Cocoa Farmers Cooperative.
The National Board Secretary and Administrator of World Cocoa Farmers Organisation, Mr Moses Gyan Asiedu, said the farmers as producers of an important commodity were faced with the huge challenge which was causing them to be poor and therefore called for the government’s intervention.
“The rising cost of production is coming from all angels such as fertilisers, cutlasses and machinery used in spraying and pruning.
“The prices of equipment are going up and the farm gate price keeps fluctuating and this does not reflect in the high rising cost of production, causing farmers to lose huge sums of money,” he said.
For his part, the Chairman for Cocoa Abrabopa Cocoa Association, Pomisi Ismail, said there was no way the government would be able to sustain the cocoa sector if they did not address the issue of pricing.
The Deputy Country Director for SEND Ghana, Dr Emmanuel Ayifah, said it was worrying to note that cocoa communities and farmers who produced such important crop continued to remain poor.
He said there was the need for the government to develop policies and provide infrastructure that would change fortunes of cocoa growing communities.
For his part, an Assistant Scientist of SUDWIND, Friedel Hutz-Adams, said the government’s failure to pay inadequate prices to cocoa farmers was a breach of their human rights.
FROM AMA TEKYIWAA AMPADU AGYEMAN, KUMASI