Business News of Friday, 3 August 2012
Cocoa farmers have appealed to the government to come out with increase in producer price of cocoa at the appropriate period that would benefit them.
According to the farmers drawn from seven districts of the country, they run at a loss each time cocoa producer price was announced because they would have already gone for loans that attract huge interest.
“We do not benefit from the increment because we use it to defray debts,” they stated, and suggested to the government to announce the producer price around every January.
The Cocoa famers made the appeal at a three-day forum organized for them by the Cadbury Cocoa Partnership in Takoradi.
The forum, which is the third in a series was on the theme:“Improving livelihood through sustainable cocoa production” and aimed at sensitizing the farmers on good farming practices and discussing their concerns for redress.
The farmers raised a number of concerns that impeded production and mentioned some as the non-availability or inadequate chemicals to spray the farms, the deplorable roads in the cocoa growing areas, making it difficult to transport cocoa to the sheds for weighing.
They also criticized purchasing clerks who cheat them by adjusting the weighing scales while the cocoa spraying exercise has also been a failure to them as they do not benefit from it.
The farmers were not happy that while they toil for the nation to earn foreign exchange, scholarships scheme that should go to their children “rather go to the city dwellers who sit in offices”.
The farmers called for constant education on good farming practices by the Agricultural Extension Officers, to ensure good yield.
Mr. Agyemang Darko of Suhum Kraboa-Coltar suggested to the government to set up “rural scholarship scheme’ for farmers, which according to him would stop the practice where non-farmers enjoy the privilege.
To ensure adequate rehabilitation of cocoa farms, Mr. Darko prayed that government grant them loans as done to public servants while pension schemes must also be instituted for them by deducting monies from their yields at the weighing centers.
Responding to issues raised on the deplorable road network, Mr. Charles Adubofour, Western Regional Maintenance Manager of the Ghana Highway Authority, said in collaboration with the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), cocoa roads were being rehabilitated in phases.
According to him, a programme had been drawn up for the tarring of roads in the hinterland of which the cocoa growing areas are part, adding that the work was also being undertaken in phases.
Mr. Geoffrey Sam, District Cocoa Officer of Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Control Unit, advised the farmers against resisting the felling of cocoa trees affected by swollen shoot virus.
He said it was profitable to allow the diseased trees to be cut for replant rather than to maintain them without yielding fruits.
Mr. Sam said farmers of affected cocoa trees normally prevent the felling of the trees because most of them inherited the farms therefore any attempt to do so could create family problems.
Madam Yaa Peprah Amekudzi, Director of Cadbury Cocoa Partnership Ghana Programme, expressed the hope that the sentiments of the farmers would be addressed to serve as a morale booster for increased productivity.**