COCOBOD CEO weeps for Cocoa Farmers

The Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) Joseph Boahen Aidoo has called for a concerted effort towards addressing the impact of fallen Cocoa prices on the world market.

According to him, the current decrease in the world cocoa price from $3,100 to $1,800 per tonne in ten months, is a burden to both producers and consumers.

“As producers struggle to survive the cutting effect of low incomes from the commodity, both producers and consumers stand to suffer the long-term damage, if we fail to adopt measures today to remedy the situation,” the CEO stated.

This was contained in a speech read on his behalf by Dr. Yaw Adu-Ampomah, Deputy Chief Executive of Ghana Cocoa Board at the opening of a 3-day Regional Partners Meeting on the Sustainable Smallholder Agri-Business (SSAB) on Tuesday February 5, 2018 in Accra.

The event dabbed “Strong smallholder entrepreneurs for a strong Cocoa sector, Institutionalising successful approaches to increase and diversify cocoa smallholders’ incomes”,

was commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

He said the existing problems of the cocoa swollen shoot virus disease at endemic levels, over-aged cocoa farms, pests and other diseases, is being compounded by the current low cocoa price issue.

However, with Government’s support, Cocoa Board has putten in place measures to assist cocoa farmers to increase their farm products as  strategic response to reduce the impact of the low cocoa prices on producer income.

Mr. Aidoo said, their main focus is to treat the farms affected by deadly swollen shoot disease and also offer extension services based on good agricultural practices, raise productivity and restore confidence in farmers.

The SSAB project which would be ending by end of this year, has been very useful to cocoa producers as adoption rate has been over 70%. The goal is to help 404,600 male and female smallholders, mainly in cocoa growing areas of Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, the Ivory Coast and Cameroon, to sustainably improve their incomes and food supplies from diversified production.

“We have initiated the process to incorporate the Farmer Business School/Cooperative Business School modules in the curricula of the Bunso Cocoa College to ensure the Sustainability of the programme,” he noted.

According to him, the SSAB programme coincides with the difficult times in the cocoa industry’s modern history when prices consistently fell to threaten the sustainability of supply and survival of producers.

Meanwhile, Mr. Aidoo has indicated that, Ghana’s cocoa industry employs a significant number of the population, by meeting the livelihood needs of over 800,000 families and over thousands of workers in the value chain.

“As we produce, we must be innovative in our handling of the challenges that confront the industry to survive the rapidly changing market environment. One of the several available strategy is to explore synergies with our partners as the way forward to reaching our goals,” he stressed.

Mrs. Verena Wiesner, the Head of Cooperation of the German Embassy in Ghana, who opened the event together with the Deputy Chief Executive Director of Ghana Cocoa witnesses Board, Dr. Yaw Adu Ampomah, and witnessed by over 100 partners and stakeholders from across the cocoa sector, stated that, it is priority of the German Government to support the cocoa sector across Africa.

Meanwhile, in their statement, in 2010, the precursory project “Sustainable Cocoa Business” developed the Farmer Business School (FBS) approach for cocoa production systems with its partners with the aim to support male and female smallholder farmers to become better farm Managers.

“The FBS training covers farm management and investment strategies for the use of Good

Agricultural Practice (GPA). And since then, more than 450,000 cocoa producers (29 % of them female) have been trained by our local partners. In addition to FBS trainings, more than 167,000 cocoa farmers (30%  women) have been trained in Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) for cocoa and food products.

The SSAB programme supports over 50 public, private and civil society partners in the five partner countries. In Ghana, the activities build on a very good collaboration with the Cocoa

Health and Extension Division (CHED) of COCOBOD.

The joint effort to build capacities of extension agents and their supervisors in the FBS approach has contributed immensely to extension delivery and to the incubation of farmer groups and cooperatives in Ghana. Also our private partners, AgroEcom, Touton, Dizengoff, Fidelity Bank, Mondelez, Solidaridad and Rainforest Alliance, have been great partners in scaling up and mainstreaming FBS and GAP trainings. 154,894 producers (32% women) Ghanaian cocoa farmers have been trained in FBS. 72,536 smallholders (33% women) underwent trainings on GAP for cocoa and food production.

Selected impacts are:

• 52% of FBS graduates opened saving accounts.

• 25% received loans for cocoa.

• 36% FBS trained group have organized themselves into producer organizations,” the statement indicated.

Source: Sammy Adjei || Ghananewsonline.com.gh

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