Gov’t will pay realistic prices for cocoa — Prez Mahama
President John Mahama has said the government remains committed to paying producer prices for cocoa that will not leave Ghana’s hard-working cocoa farmers worse off.
He said in spite of the daunting challenges facing the crop globally as a result of rising costs and declining world prices that had given rise to concerns for sustainability, the government would ensure that adequate prices were paid for cocoa.
This was contained in a speech read on his behalf at this year’s Ghana Cocoa Festival, dubbed the ’2013 Copal Cocoa Day’, held in Accra yesterday.
The theme for the day, instituted by the Alliance of Cocoa Producing Countries (COPAL) to recognise the contribution of farmers to the transformation of economies and the livelihoods of millions of people, was, ‘Cocoa Consumption for a Healthier Nation’.
Appeal for Sacrifice
President Mahama said he was aware stakeholders had proposed to the government to begin a gradual withdrawal from CODAPEC and hi-tech programmes and replace it with a scheme that guaranteed the continuous supply of and access to farming inputs.
CODAPEC is a national cocoa diseases and pests control programme initiated by the government in the 2001/2002 cocoa season.
He implored all stakeholders in the country’s cocoa industry to accept future appeals for sacrifice in order to achieve sustainability goals.
Declaring the relevance of the cocoa industry to the economy of Ghana, President John Mahama said, ‘The government will, therefore, support the efforts of COCOBOD to promote sustainable livelihoods in cocoa communities in order to achieve the industry’s sustainability goals.’
In view of that, he said, support for ongoing initiatives, such as the farmers’ scholarship scheme, solar street light projects in remote communities, the provision of good drinking water and the development of road and health infrastructure, would continue.
Conversely, he urged parents in cocoa farming areas to enrol their children in schools, saying they had equal responsibility as parents in other employment categories to enrol their children in schools.
Mr Anthony Fofie, the Chief Executive of COCOBOD, enjoined the public to increase the country’s current paltry per capita cocoa consumption of 0.5kg to ‘stimulate the establishment of small-scale industrial units to create jobs for the youth and enhance the long-term sustainability of the cocoa sector’.
Quoting from various researches that had been conducted on the health benefits of cocoa, he said cocoa contained active ingredients that fought against diseases such as high blood pressure, malaria, diabetes, epilepsy, insomnia, migraine, arthritis and certain cancers.
Dr Paul Nanga Coulibaly, the Secretary General of COPAL, said although the 10-member country alliance produced about 75 per cent of the world’s cocoa, only about 20 per cent was processed.
Although Ghana, as the second largest producer, harvests over 825,000 tonnes of cocoa annually, only about 220,000 tonnes is processed.
Alhaji Alhassan Bukari, the National Chief Farmer, expressed his gratitude to the government for stabilising the producer price for cocoa.
Three individuals received awards for their contribution to Ghana’s cocoa industry.
They were Mr Samuel Tobi, who was adjudged the ‘Most Promising Young Cocoa Farmer for 2013′; Mr Godwin Sogbor, ‘Best Researcher into Benefits of Cocoa’ and Mr Kwame McJoseph (Rite FM – Somanya), ‘Best Journalist for the Promotion of the Benefits of Cocoa’.
All the awardees were presented with plaques, undisclosed sums of money and some cocoa products.
As part of his award, Mr Sogbor was asked to submit a PhD proposal into the mysteries of cocoa to COCOBOD for funding.
By Edmund Smith Asante/Daily Graphic/Ghana
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