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Govt won’t reduce producer price of cocoa – Akufo-Addo assures farmers

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has assured cocoa farmers that the government will not reduce the current producer price of cocoa, in spite of the plummeting world market price.
The guaranteed price the government paid to farmers in the 2018/19 main crop season was GH¢7,600 per tonne or GH¢475 per bag of 64 kilograms (kg)
President Akufo-Addo said he took the decision not to reduce the producer price because farmers had been producing the wealth of the nation.
Besides, he said, through the toil of farmers, a lot of activities in the country were being subsidized and “it is only fair that when things turn against them, the state should come in to help”.
President Akufo-Addo gave the assurance when he received a delegation of the Ghana Cocoa, Coffee and Sheanut Farmers Association at the Jubilee House in Accra last Friday. The President’s assurance came against the backdrop of a recent call by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the government to reduce the producer price of cocoa to reflect changes in international cocoa prices.
According to the IMF, the downward adjustment would help COCOBOD deal with its current funding gap of GH¢1 billion. At its seventh and eighth review under the recently concluded External Credit Facility (ECF) programme, the IMF said the gap had been due to the government’s inability to reduce the producer price paid to cocoa farmers at a time global prices of the crop had been falling.
President Akufo-Addo said that, in sum, “social justice” informed the decision to maintain the current price of the produce.
He reiterated the fact that Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, which accounted for 60 percent of total world cocoa production, were working closely to get better conditions and prices for cocoa farmers. The President explained that the collaboration would involve coordinating production and marketing, among other areas, in order to get better prices.
He expressed concern over the fact that it was those who bought the cocoa who made huge profits, while the farmers who worked hard on the farms got peanut, a development which, he said, must cease.Interventions
President Akufo-Addo expressed delight that the farmers had appreciated the various government interventions, including fertiliser subsidy, the replacement of old cocoa trees with new ones and hand pollination.
He appealed to the farmers to be vigilant and support the government to deal with “nation wreckers” who stole fertiliser and sold it to farmers in other countries.
“It is not correct that a few people, for their selfish interest, will take the fertiliser subsidised by the sweat and hard work of Ghanaian farmers and smuggle it to Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire. It is not right and you have to help me stamp out the smuggling of fertiliser out of the country,” he told the farmers.
The President saluted the farmers for helping the government to deal with illegal mining and assured them that the fight would not be put on hold.
Rather, he said, the fight against the canker would be intensified and debunked the assertion by sections of the media that he would lose the 2020 elections because of the ban on illegal mining.
He said he owed it as a responsibility to the current and future generations to defeat illegal mining to halt the devastating pollution of waters bodies and the general destruction of the environment, adding that if they were allowed to continue, there would be no Ghana in the next decade.Law
President Akufo-Addo disclosed that at the end of May this year, when Parliament resumed sitting, the government would table before it a bill for the establishment of a Tree Crop Development Authority, which had been in the works for ages, to focus on sheanut, coffee, rubber, mango and coconut.
He said the law would establish an institution just like COCOBOD and provide strong institutional support for the crops, so that both farmers and the country would derive the maximum benefit.
He said coffee and shea butter had enormous potential for the country because available information indicated that they attracted billions of dollars in areas such as the USA.
“We should get inside there and make some of that money for ourselves,” he stressed.
Realising that goal, President Akufo-Addo said, would require cooperation between the government and farmers to grow the industry to the level that cocoa had reached.
Reacting to an appeal by the farmers for solar lamps and mosquito nets, the President directed the Minister of Food and Agriculture and the Chief Executive of the COCOBOD to ensure that they assisted farmers with their request.Governance
The President urged members of the association, which has a membership of about one million, to place emphasis on their internal governance and abide by its laid-down rules, regulations and constitution in selecting their leadership and managing their affairs.
He said that was the best way to grow any organisation, reduce tension and afford group members the space to work in unity and solidarity.
Answering a question by a farmer from the Volta Region, the President said the Eastern Corridor roads would be taken care of very soon under the Sino Hydro projects.
The Spokesperson for the association, Alhaji Imoro Issifu Alhassan, said the farmers were increasingly worried that cocoa prices on the world market had been going down, to the extent that some stakeholders had suggested that local cocoa prices must be reduced to save the national coffers.
On that score, he commended the President for maintaining the producer price.
He also lauded the President for the various social intervention programmes the government had instituted, especially the free senior high school policy, which had afforded poor farmers the opportunity to send their children to school at no cost.
He expressed the association’s gratitude to the government for involving the association in the distribution of fertiliser through its input stores. 

Source: Graphic Online

COCOBOD Would Not Reduce Cocoa Prices:-Reducing cocoa price will collapse industry

The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) says the call by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that it should reduce the producer price of cocoa “makes economic sense.”

However, the COCOBOD said any attempt to heed that call would mark the beginning of the collapse of the country’s cocoa industry.

In an interview that discussed a range of issues on the producer price of cocoa and cocoa sustainability in Ghana, the Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, Mr. Joseph Boahen Aidoo, said any attempt to “reduce the price by even GH¢5 will spell doom for the industry.”

Such a reduction will motivate farmers to relinquish their cocoa farmlands for illegal mining, rubber and cashew plantations to the detriment of the cocoa industry, Mr. Aidoo said.

He was responding to an advice by the IMF to the board and the government to adjust the producer price of cocoa downwards to reflect global trends.

The fund said the reduction was necessary to ensure that COCOBOD did not expand its financing gap estimated at GH¢1 billion.

“The proposal of the IMF makes sense economically but the decision does not have to be made based on the economics of it alone; we have to weigh the social and the environmental effect also.

“So, our decision to maintain the price is based on the determination that the environmental and the social impact outweigh the economic effect as being suggested by the IMF,” he added.

On the IMF’s advice that the government could use “explicit budget transfers” to cushion farmers’ incomes from the impact of a producer price reduction, Mr Aidoo said “it does not make any difference.”

“That is like robbing Peter to pay Paul,” he said, explaining that the cost of that mechanism would still be borne by the state.

“Meanwhile, when you reduce the price, you sort of send a bad signal that will motivate the farmers to give out their farms,” he added.


In view of the consequences of the downward adjustment of the producer price of cocoa, Mr Aidoo said the board was justified in keeping the price paid to cocoa farmers at GH¢7,600 per tonne for two years in a row at a time prices of the crop had fallen by an average of 40 per cent on the world market.

He, however, explained that in the unlikely event that prices dropped below a danger level, the board, the government and the farmers “will have to sit and take a decision.

Until then, Mr Aidoo said, the board and the government would continue to keep the price at GH¢7,600 per tonne while intensifying the productivity-enhancing programmes (PEPS) to help protect farmers’ incomes.

Cost of ‘galamsey’

COCOBOD’s CEO said unlike other cocoa producing countries, Ghana’s cocoa sector was competing with illegal mining, cashew and rubber plantations for the same land.

To worsen the situation, he said, productivity in the sector had been low, making it easier for farmers, most of whom were past 50 years, to relinquish their cocoa farms for other ventures that could fetch them comparatively higher incomes.

He revealed that a survey by the board found that substantial amounts of cocoa lands in the Eastern Region and the previously called Brong Ahafo Region had been lost to cashew and rubber plantations, leading to a decline in contribution to national output from those areas.

“When you go to Weichi in the Brong Ahafo Region, the large tracts of cashew farms you see there now used to be cocoa farms, but because of the low productivity and loss of interest in cocoa farming, farmers started converting their farms to cashew farms,” he said.

“So the justification (for maintaining the price) is that we had to actually put measures in place to sort of bring a break to the way the industry was losing land to illegal mining. Because if the price of cocoa had been reduced in 2017 by even GH¢5, when cocoa prices on the world market fell by more than 40 per cent, most cocoa farmers would have sold their land to illegal miners,” he said.

Financial gap

Mr Aidoo said that was not the first time a global body was concerned about Ghana’s unwillingness to reduce the producer price to correspond with world market prices.

He recalled that the World Bank, the World Cocoa Foundation, the International Cocoa Organisation and even peer cocoa growers had asked the COCOBOD why the country was keeping its producer price intact when global prices were falling.

Apart from Ghana, almost all the 50 cocoa growing countries worldwide have reduced their cocoa producer price to reflect the fall in the price of the crop internationally.

COCOBOD’s CEO said Ghana’s decision came at a cost.

In the 2017/18 cocoa season, when global prices of the crop fell by more than 40 per cent, he said the board recorded a financial gap of GH¢2.03 billion.

It, however, narrowed to the current GH¢1 billion as a result of modest improvements in the price in the 2018/19 season, he said.


COCOBOD programme improves cocoa yield

The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has pruned about 12, 424.4 hectares of cocoa farms this year in the Bono, Bono East and Ahafo regions as part of its Productivity Enhancement Programme (PEP).

The mass pruning exercise, which started in March 2019 and is expected to end this month, forms part of the implementation of various programmes by COCOBOD to improve the yield of cocoa farmers without necessarily expanding their farms.

The pruning is being done to remove some cocoa trees and branches from overcrowded cocoa farms to allow enough sunshine and air which are necessary to improve the health of the trees for better yields.

A total of 14,645 cocoa farms and 14,510 cocoa farmers have benefited from the exercise executed by 2,719 hired labourers.

Pruning exercise

These came to light when the Director of Human Resource/Solicitor Secretary of CoCoBod, Mr Francis Akwasi Opoku, visited some cocoa farms in the Ahafo and Bono regions to inspect the pruning exercise being undertaken by youth gangs employed by the company.

Addressing some of the gangs in various cocoa farms at Bechem Junction and Kwasuso, Mr Opoku commended them for the zeal and commitment to enable the company to achieve the objectives of the exercise.

He also visited some farms where the youth had been employed to artificially pollinate the cocoa trees to increase their yields.

Overaged trees

For his part, the Deputy Director of the Cocoa Health Extension Division (CHED) of COCOBOD, Dr Nii Tackie-Otoo, said Ghana was currently surviving on the production from 60 per cent of all cocoa trees since 23 per cent of the cocoa trees were overaged while 17 per cent had been wrecked with diseases.

“It is the productivity from the PEP that is sustaining the cocoa industry”, he stated and encouraged farmers to accept the policy to prune their cocoa farms for increased yields.

“We do not want the farmers to expand their farms unnecessarily but rather embrace the good agronomic practices being taught under the PEP to enable them reap better yields from their existing farms”, he stated.

Dr Tackie-Otoo advised farmers to consider their farming activities as business and reserve part of their profits to supplement efforts by the government in order to improve on their incomes.


A prominent cocoa farmer at Kwasuso, Mr Anthony Appiah Ankrah, said the government assisted in pruning three acres out of his 60-acre cocoa farm and explained that the increased production from the pruned area had encouraged him to prune the remaining area himself.

He stated that the pruning exercise, coupled with the provision of liquid fertiliser, artificial pollination and the supply of other inputs had begun to have a positive impact on the cocoa industry and appealed to the government to expand such policies and programmes.

However, a leader of one of the gangs pruning the various farms, Sampson Anane, mentioned insufficient tools such as adjustable ladder, boots and clothing as some of the problems hampering the smooth implementation of the programme.

He also called for regular training for those who had been engaged for the pruning and other programmes aimed at improving on the yields of cocoa farmers.