Some women working on a cocoa farm
The Alliance for Development & industrialization (ADI), an advocacy group and think tank comprising new generation entrepreneurs and business executives, has expressed concern about the decline in Ghana’s cocoa production over the past few years.
It has, therefore, called on President Nana Akufo-Addo to consider the restoration of the country’s hitherto cocoa production levels, and work towards improving it as a major priority for policy reform and implementation going forward.
From a peak of one million tons achieved at the start of the decade, Ghana’s annual cocoa production has declined to barely 800,000 tons – and sometimes less – in each subsequent cropping season.
This in turn has had a dire effect on the performance of the Ghanaian economy, especially at a time that the downturn in global market prices for both gold and crude oil, the country’s other major commodity exports, have seriously constrained our foreign exchange earnings.
COCOBOD’s assertion that its distribution of 60 million seedlings annually since 2013 has been sufficient to support increased production is questionable.
“The hard truth is that an estimate of between 60 and 70 percent of those seedlings procured for distribution to cocoa farmers have not actually supported increased production because COCOBOD failed to follow up with the requisite technical and financial support services that would have ensured the efficient and effective use of the seedlings distributed.
“The result has been substantial financial loss to the state. At the barest minimum, the loss of effectiveness of one third of the seedlings procured at GHc2 per seedling translates into a financial waste of some GHc80 million. Add another 20 percent of this as wasted cost of handling, transport storage etc and the loss to the state annually amounts to GHc96 million.
“However, if the loss to the state is computed on the basis of potential export revenues foregone, rather than input expenditure wasted, then the losses increase exponentially into the region of hundreds of millions of US dollars annually.”
ADI also called for support for cocoa farmers by the state to be provided in a holistic manner that addresses the challenges of every cocoa farmer in Ghana, adding that simply providing seedlings and fertilizers to some of them fell far short of optimal.
“We therefore propose that the new government adopts a strategy of applying Key Performance Indicators for each stage of the production chain, from planting right through to harvesting.
This proposed process would start from establishing an accurate, up-to-date database which identifies each cocoa farmer, location of each cocoa farm and size of land under cultivation, as well as a physical and topological map of each farm.
Using this information, the state would be well positioned to make provision for suitable new, climate-smart technologies across various processes such as mulching practices and pre-planting of plantain suckers one year in advance.
“Equally important are strategies to protect cocoa farms from diseases such as mistletoe which have been ravaging them in recent years. This requires the resumption of effective mass spraying services. Also, since most cocoa farms in Ghana are aged, they require automated pruning and support services.
Credit to farmers
Financial service support for farmers also needs to be improved. In this regard, basic credit to farmers is imperative to enable them meet labour and production input costs. In view of the well documented difficulties in accessing agricultural finance, there is the urgent need to avail cocoa farms of agricultural insurance, which would make access to credit easier by protecting lenders against credit risk.”
By Samuel Boadi