The Mahama Administration and the Cocoa Industry

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Cocoa is the mainstay of Ghana’s economy and that sacred fact needs no stress. Cocoa does not only serve as the chief source of Ghana’s foreign exchange earnings but also one of the sources of our local revenue generation. In addition to this, millions of Ghanaians are involved in its production.

In order to acknowledge the country’s debt to cocoa, the government of President John Mahama took various steps to revamp the industry and make the sector more attractive to the youth.

The most significant step the Mahama administration took in respect of the producer price of cocoa was – it increased producer price of the product in spite of price drop on the international market. Alongside with this, the Mahama administration introduced the free fertilizer distribution policy, distributed over 50 million seedlings to the farmers. Internationally, the Mahama administration with the co-operation of other cocoa producing countries were able to negotiate for a better selling price for cocoa.

The Mahama administration was also through the Cocobod took the following steps to make life and movement easier for cocoa farmers

-Hospitals and Chps compound were constructed in the cocoa growing communities to provide cocoa farmers and other farmers their health needs.

-Community Day Secondary Schools were built in some cocoa growing communities. Government also renovated old schools including the basic schools, built new structures and provided incentives to teachers posted to these communities to encourage them stay in these areas

-Shops were being opened at vantage areas where farmers can buy their spraying machines and other implements, building materials at discount and controlled prices without intervention of middlemen.

-Government planned to introduce a “cocoa farms redemption scheme” where loans will be given to cocoa and cashew nut farmers to reclaim their farms pledged to money lenders.

-Government begun construction of feeder roads in cocoa growing communities

-The Mahama administration directed cocobod to acquire pieces of land to engage the youth in cocoa farming.

The administration implemented support programmes to support the youth in cocoa programmes to reverse the dominance of the aged in cocoa farming.

Government initiated the mass spraying programme, rehabilitation and replanting of over aged cocoa farms culminating in the increase in revenue from the product.

Government consistently increased producer price of cocoa in spite of the fluctuating world market prices. For 2014-15 cocoa seasons, the producer price per tonne was increased from Ghc 3,392 to Ghc 5,520. During the 2015-16 cocoa season, the producer price was further increased to Ghc 6,800

A generous secondary school scholarship existed for wards of cocoa farmers. Scholarship schemes offered to cocoa farmers wards in second cycle schools between 2014-15 increased from 7,500 to a total of 11,200

DANQUAH/BUSIA TRADITION AND THE COCOA INDUSTRY

On 10th August 1954, the CPP introduced the Cocoa duty and development fund (amendment) bill. According to Nkrumah in his autobiography, the effect of the bill was to fix the price paid to the Cocoa farmers at 72 shillings a load (sixty pounds) for four years.

According to Nkrumah, his government guaranteed to pay that price irrespective of how low prices of cocoa price might fall during the time and the fund that was accrued to government would be used on expanding the economy as whole with special emphasis on agriculture. The cocoa farmers showed a favourable reaction to the bill according to Nkrumah but the opposition took advantage of the new policy to spark agitations. The Council for Higher Cocoa Prices was formed and was succeeded by the National Liberation Movement. The agitation against the Cocoa Bill, metamorphosed into demand for a federal system of government. They incited the people in Ashanti region against the Nkrumah administration: they alleged that money Cocoa growers were pouring into the national coffers was being used in developing the coastal, or colony region and that Ashanti, which should be deriving most benefits from the money, was being neglected.

The Cocoa sector suffered major setback under Busia/Edward Akufo-Addo. Loans contracted to support the Cocoa industry were channeled into other sector. This irresponsible behaviour of the administration affected cocoa production.

The Acheampong administration had to take certain strategic measures to save the almost collapsed cocoa industry. The SMC administration had to contract another loan for the Eastern Region cocoa project. The administration paid Gh 400.00 per acre to farmers who borrowed money to replant new farms. The Acheampong government also arranged for another world bank loan for a new project on in line of the Suhum Cocoa project in the Ashanti region. That project covered 30,000 acres. The Acheampong administration had to take all these decisions because of the crippled cocoa sector it inherited.

Source: ohenenana Obonti Krow

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