Ghana loses 25% of cocoa output
Ghana is losing about 25 per cent of its annual cocoa output to the black pod disease, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Mr Anthony Fofie, has said.
This translates to about 212, 500 metric tonnes of cocoa beans (25 per cent of the 850,000 metric tonnes) that was lost to the disease in 2012.
It also represents an annual revenue loss of about GH¢7.5 million given that the country currently earns an average of GH¢3 billion from cocoa related exports annually.
To help stem the crop losses, its impact on farmer incomes and the resultant revenue leakages suffered by the country, the COCOBOD, which regulates the cocoa sector, on June 11, signed a public private partnership (PPP) agreement with the Netherlands Embassy in the country and three other institutions to help fight the black pod menace.
The initiative, which has the Ghana Cocoa Growing Research Association Limited, Mars Incorporated and Mondelez International as partners, would make available over US$400 million towards the production of new varieties of cocoa that can withstand the disease.
It is a continuation of the Mabang Megakarya Selection Programme (MMSP), which was launched in 2005 as a joint initiative in cocoa breeding.
The current programme will now run for the next four years, according to a press release issued after the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the partnership-institutions in Accra.
An implementation board, chaired by the Deputy CEO of COCOBOD in-charge of Quality Control, Mr Dr Yam Adu-Ampomah, was also inaugurated to see to the disbursement and continuation of the programme.
COCOBOD’s CEO told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS after the signing that his outfit was hopeful the new initiative, which has the board as the coordinator, would help curtail the spread of the black pod disease, thereby minimising its impact on farmer and national revenue.
‘The black pod disease is costing us and the farmers a lot, especially its Megakarya form; it can easily wipe out the entire crop and that is a worry to us,’ he said.
The Megakarya form of the disease is dominant in cocoa producing communities in parts of the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions.
Cocoa has, for decades, remained a strong pillar of Ghana’s economy, contributing substantial amount of revenues in foreign exchange to the government while serving as a source of living to thousands of people across the country.
In 2011 for instance, the country grossed some US$2 billion in export earnings from cocoa beans and products, making cocoa the third highest foreign exchange earner after oil and gold.
The amount raked, however, rose to a record high of US$2.8 billion in cash in last year on the back of increased output which was on the back of favourable climatic conditions.
These notwithstanding, challenges relating to pests and disease, ageing trees and harsh climatic conditions abound and these continue to threaten the annual production levels of the country.
Output for instance peaked at one million metric tonnes in 2010/2011 season only to decline to 850,000 metric tonnes in 2011/2012 season.
COCOBOD’s target is now 800,000 metric tonnes to be raked from the ongoing 2012/2013 cocoa season. The new partnership will go a long way to help the board achieve that target, COCOBOD’s CEO said
By Maxwell Adombila Akalaare/Graphic Business/Ghana
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