President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has celebrated the hundreds of thousands of cocoa farmers across the country responsible for the production of a crop that has, for over a century, been the mainstay for the economy of the country.
At an event at the Jubilee Park in Kumasi, on Monday, 2nd October 2017, to mark World Cocoa Day, Nana Akufo-Addo also congratulated Board of Directors, Management and Staff of COCOBOD for 70 years of its existence.
Acknowledging with gratitude the work of the past generations of cocoa farmers who were responsible for the growth of the cocoa industry, the President noted that “in their hundreds and hundreds of thousands, they worked to provide us the income with which we have built our nation’s infrastructure and its most important educational institutions.”
The history of Ghana’s cocoa, he said, cannot be complete without mention of the legendary Ghanaian, Tetteh Quarshie, through whose efforts the cocoa industry was established and nurtured.
The President added that the celebration of World Cocoa Day should be a day where Ghanaians recollect also those great patriots who led the agitation, in the Gold Coast, in seeking just and fair rewards for the country’s cocoa farmers, an agitation that resulted, eventually, in the establishment of the Cocoa Marketing Board.
Despite supplying the half of world’s cocoa tonnage by 1935, 60 years after the arrival of Tetteh Quarshie from Fernando Po, Nana Akufo-Addo noted that, as was the order of those times, cocoa farmers in the Gold Coast did not have any say in the price paid for their products.
When world cocoa prices began to slump, most of the European firms, who purchased cocoa, formed a ‘Pool’ to agree on the price to be paid for cocoa.
“This ‘Pool’ was viewed with great suspicion by the farmers, and with the co-operation of chiefs, and advice from persons like Dr Joseph Boakye Danquah and the other nationalists, the farmers decided to boycott the ‘Pool’, and refused to sell their cocoa to them,” the President recounted.
He continued, “Dr Danquah wrote an account of the boycott in a pamphlet titled ‘The Liberty of the Subject’. It was largely the agitation led by Dr Danquah which brought about the appointment of the Nowell Commission in 1937. Indeed, the recommendations of the Nowell Commission eventually led to the establishment of the Cocoa Marketing Board in 1947.”
For his efforts, on 13th July, 1946, Nana Akufo-Addo indicated that “the farmers presented Dr Danquah with a Commendatory and Acclamatory Address at Nsawam for showing them the way to prosperity. They referred to him as Akuafo Kanea – The Light of the Farmers – for his role in seeking a better welfare for them.”
Seven years after the establishment of the Cocoa Marketing Board, the Hall Council of University College of the Gold Coast, now University of Ghana, decided to name the newly constructed Hall of Residence, Akuafo Hall, in appreciation of the generous gesture of the farmers of the then Gold Coast who, through the Cocoa Marketing Board, contributed considerable sums of money for the establishment of Akuafo Hall as a Hall of Residence.
These farmers also contributed to other structural works for the University College of the Gold Coast in a project which was spearheaded by Dr Danquah.
“This is part of the monumental contribution of cocoa farmers to the development of our country, and I think it appropriate that, on this occasion, we recollect these facts, in order to give credit to those to whom credit is due,” Nana Akufo-Addo said.
Depart from era of impropriety
Nana Akufo-Addo, in his admonition to the new Board of Directors and Management of COCOBOD, urged them to “put behind them the era of systemic mismanagement, gross financial malfeasance and flagrant misappropriation of funds that allegedly characterised the running of COCOBOD in the recent past.”
The Ghanaian people, he added, demand accountability and the judicious use of COCOBOD funds, “and I know you will not disappoint them.”
Nana Akufo-Addo was confident that with the reintroduction of the Cocoa Diseases and Pest Control Programme (CODAPEC), otherwise known as mass cocoa spraying exercise, on 7th August, 2017, at Dansokrom in Sefwi Wiawso, together with the provision of subsidised fertilizer to farmers, “we will regain our pride of place in the cocoa industry.”
Nana Akufo-Addo revealed further that as part of measures to improve productivity, the Ministry of Finance no longer exercises oversight ministerial responsibility over the cocoa industry, which has been the previous practice.
“The Ministry of Food and Agriculture is now responsible for all matters relating to the cocoa industry, a step which aids in the effective formulation of the relevant, coherent policies required for boosting agricultural productivity, including cocoa productivity,” he added.