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Business News of Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Source: Graphic Online

Boost for Ghana’s cocoa sector

Solidaridad West Africa has received support from the Netherlands Embassy in Ghana to implement the Cocoa Rehabilitation and Intensification Programme (CORIP) over the next four years.

The embassy is thus investing €7million into this project, targeting entrepreneurial farmers who want to develop their cocoa farms into sustainable and viable business enterprises.

CORIP will also witness the setting up of cocoa Rural Service Centres (RSC) in cocoa growing areas all over the country to promote and upscale cocoa production in a sustainable self- financing way by providing training, information, inputs and technical support to cocoa farmers.

It would also provide the necessary technical support for farmers to rehabilitate old farms, as well as intensify production in existing cocoa producing regions.

The Managing Director of Solidaridad West Africa, Mr Issac Gyamfi, told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS after the company signed an agreement with the Netherlands Embassy to support the project, that Ghana’s cocoa sector faced a lot of challenges and as such it competitiveness on the global market was below average.

Such challenges include low productivity, low income for smallholder farmers, depleting soils, poor labour conditions and environmental challenges including deforestation.

The grant, he explained, would be used to provide technical assistance, as well as train trainers who will in turn deploy best skill to farmers, while part of the funds would also go into developing improved planting materials.

Some of the funds, he also explained, would go into rehabilitation of the farms.

Asked what the project sought to achieve at the end of four years, Mr Gyamfi said, “at the end of the day, we want farmers to increase productivity from an average of about 400 kg per hectare to 800 kg and 1000kg per hectare.”

Increase in productivity, he explained, would ultimately improve the country’s competitiveness on the global market, adding “our competitors in other parts of the world are doing over a 1000 kg per hectare and we are doing 400 kilos and sometimes even less.”

The Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Hans Docter, told the media the grant was aimed at improving the competitiveness of the country’s cocoa sector in collaboration with the private sector.

The project will be jointly handled by a consortium of cocoa sector partners and industry companies including International Fertiliser Development Corporation (IFDC), Armajaro, Cargill, ECOM, Barry Callebaut, ADM and Continaf, with the expectation that more cocoa companies will participate in its implementation.

Ghana is currently the second largest exporter of cocoa after Cote d’Ivoire, with revenue derived from it accounting for a large portion of the country’s total exports.

The cocoa industry in Ghana is monopolised by the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) who buys the bulk of Ghana’s cocoa product through its 26 Licensed Buying Companies (LBCs) and then exports it throughout the world.

In the third quarter of 2013, the government maintained the producer price of cocoa at GH¢3,392 per tonne; quite competitive on the market to prevent people from smuggling the beans across the border to Cote d’Ivoire.

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