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Feature Article of Saturday, 19 October 2013

Columnist: Thompson, Kofi

Could Mahama Iddrisu Help Secure Future Of Cocoa Industry?

Today, speaking as an organic cocoa farmer myself, I intend to grab an opportunity to point out to Ghana's current minister of trade and industry, the Hon. Haruna Iddrisu, how he could help secure the future of Ghana's all-important cocoa industry.

I will use a report I read online at www.ghanaweb.com, which was attributed to the business section of the Daily Graphic (http://mobile.ghanaweb.com/wap/article.php?ID=288953), to make the point that on the subject of ridding Ghana's cocoa beans of the residue from cancer-causing chemicals like cadmium, he must ignore the counsel of the officials who advise government ministers in Ghana - virtually all of whom are beholden to sundry vested interests: including those that make billions of dollars in profits selling the very cancer-causing inputs used in Ghana's cocoa industry - such as cadmium - that the EU and sensible nations like Japan no longer want their citizens to ingest in cocoa products such as chocolates.

For the Hon. Haruna Iddrisu's information, there are high-quality organic fertiliser pellets, such as those made by the Dutch company Fertical, and natural folair fertilisers, such as Latvian-made BioDeposit, available in Ghana today, which, if allowed by the authorities to be used extensively by cocoa farmers, can replace all the cancer-causing fertilisers and pesticides currently imported and used in Ghana's cocoa industry - and help the industry convert to traceable organic cocoa production in record time.

As it happens, Fertical's excellent organic fertilisers are used by some EU organic farmers. BioDeposit has also made a huge difference to the incomes of many coffee producers in Kenya and Rwanda - some of whom have converted to traceable organic coffee-bean production thanks to the availability of BioDeposit in East Africa. (http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=266537)

The minister for trade and industry's speech, which was delivered at the 12th Joint Session of the ACP-EU Ministerial Trade Committee in Brussels, was most unfortunate.

Doubtless it was written for him by officials, who like many in officialdom in our country today, daily pay obeisance, to the gods of the cult-of-the-mediocre.

By switching to certified organic cocoa production, Ghana can abandon the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, without endangering its position as the world's second biggest producer of cocoa beans, and impoverishing Ghanaian cocoa farmers (http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/features/artikel.php?ID=267517).

The Hon. Haruna Iddrisu's Brussels speech, illustrates perfectly how ill-informed the officials responsible for it are, about global trends in the world's markets for organic agricultural produce, including that for cocoa beans.

The Hon. Haruna Iddrisu must rest assured that if synthetic fertilisers and chemical pesticides were banned tomorrow from being imported into Ghana to be used in cocoa production, it will not impoverish Ghanaian cocoa farmers.

The fact of the matter, is that if we do not stop synthetic fertilisers and chemical pesticides from being imported into Ghana for use in the cocoa industry at some point, and if Ghana does not switch to certified organic cocoa production, in the long-term Ghana is bound to lose its share of the world market for cocoa beans - and cocoa farmers in Ghana will consequently miss the life-enhancing premium prices guaranteed producers of traceable organic cocoa beans. (http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=277031)

Switching to traceable certified organic cocoa production will secure the future of Ghana's cocoa industry.

The Hon. Haruna Iddrisu can help secure that future, by working closely with the private sector players who can make that happen.

Let him end the malevolent influence of the vested interests that import the synthetic inputs that the international buyers of Ghana's cocoa beans no longer want used in producing the cocoa beans they purchase for making confectionery.

He should encourage the COCOBOD to allow the widespread use of organic fertilisers and natural pesticides in cocoa production in Ghana - and in so doing, be remembered by future generations, for helping to secure the future of Ghana’s cocoa industry: by encouraging a shift to organic cocoa farming. A word to the wise...

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Tel: 027 745 3109.

Email: peakofi.thompson@gmail.com.

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