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Business News of Monday, 23 August 2021


COCOBOD expects production to reach 1.06 million tonnes

COCOBOD CEO, Joseph Boahene Aidoo COCOBOD CEO, Joseph Boahene Aidoo

The Chief Executive of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo says the board expects production to reach 1.06 million tonnes for the 2020/21 season.

He said with six weeks to the end of the season, the board had recorded 1.033 million tonnes, beating the previous record of 1.024 million metric tonnes in the 2010/ 2011 crop season.

Manifesto promise fulfilled This is a fulfilment of the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) manifesto promise to push annual cocoa output above one million metric tonnes when it takes power in January 2017 under President-elect Nana Akufo-Addo, using a series of fresh measures.

Mr Boahen Aidoo announced this at an event to introduce new weighing scales to be used by Licensed Buying Companies for purchases when the new cocoa season begins on October 1, 2021.

He attributed the achievement to the efforts of the hardworking farmers and the several interventions introduced by COCOBOD to increase the yield.

"This achievement has never happened in the history of our cocoa industry. Notwithstanding the negative impact of COVID-19, our hardworking farmers have broken the existing record," he said, adding that all stakeholders in the cocoa production line must be applauded.

Mr Boahen Aidoo said the provision of improved seeds and fertiliser, as well as mass pruning exercise undertaken by the board, contributed to the increase in yield.

"We at COCOBOD also did a lot of work with the various stakeholders, such as the Licensed Buying Companies, extension officers, the Quality Control Unit, researchers and the farmers to achieve this target."

Mr Boahen Aidoo expressed optimism that production in the 2021/2022 crop season will exceed the current target due to the $400 Living Income Differential (LID), which directly goes to farmers.

"We are very sure that as the COVID-19 pandemic is controlled, the consumption of chocolate will go up, and this will lead to an increase in demand for cocoa. When this happens, the Ghanaian cocoa farmer will be better off."

He assured that COCOBOD will continue to put the Ghanaian farmer first to benefit from the sale of the commodity.

As part of measures to ensure that farmers are not cheated, Mr Boahen Aidoo announced that effective October 1, 2021, which marks the beginning of the new crop season, electronic weighing machines will be used by Licensed Buying Companies across the country.

He said COCOBOD had already secured 40,000 pieces of the new weighing scales to be purchased by the Licensed Buying Companies.

"This issue of weighing and cheating cocoa farmers has created a lot of problems, mistrust and disagreement in the cocoa industry. So, we have these weighing scales that can rely on both solar and electricity so that it can work in remote places," he said.

Based on research with the Ghana Standard Authority, Mr Boahen Aiddo stated that the new electronic weighing scales cannot be tampered with, to protect the farmers.

He stressed that the new system will enhance fairness and protect the integrity of the processes.

He warned all Licensed Buying Companies to abide by the new directive to avert sanctions by the regulator.

"This new electronic scale is sealed. The issues of tampering with scales will stop because with this new scale, once you tamper with it, it gets spoilt," he said.

This ground-breaking record is largely attributed to intervention productivity enhancement programmes rolled out by the board.

The programmes include national mass pruning, mass pollination and fertiliser policy that ensures fertiliser is distributed through farmer cooperatives.

Also, the introduction of various agronomic interventions by the government is helping to bring tremendous increase in crop yields per acre on cocoa farms.

Similarly, the introduction of the mass pruning of cocoa farms, hand pollination, and right application of fertilisers to the tree crop, among other things, aided the increase in production.

The new policies also include re-tooling and deepening of the Cocoa Disease and Pest Control Programme (CODAPEC); streamlining of the HI-TECH Programme to ensure equal access to fertilizers and other farm inputs; facilitating the formation of cocoa farmer groups and cooperatives across the country, which have seen more than 3,000 of them registered with the Department of Co-operatives.

It also involves the introduction of motorized weed slashers and pruners, also a new policy and the enhanced cocoa rehabilitation programme.

Hand pollination has led to an increase in the pods a single cocoa tree bears

The hand pollination had led to an increase in the pods a single cocoa tree bears at a time, thus per the COCOBOD’s estimation, a single tree could give a farmer almost 32 kilos of cocoa, which is half of a bag.

Cocoa cultivation under irrigation system is promising

Currently, the results from the pilot of cocoa cultivation under an irrigation system is promising.

7,000 kilogrammes per acre

Farmers in the Western North Region involved in the pilot are recording as high as 7,000 kilogrammes per acre.

All year round harvesting

Aside from farmers achieving optimal yield under irrigation, they stand the chance of harvesting throughout the year without thinking of expansion that will contribute to deforestation.

Water is crucial for cocoa farming, and COCOBOD is focusing on pushing for cocoa production under irrigation for farmers.

$600m JICA, AfDB facility

The irrigation pilot project is part of activities under the $600 million syndicated loan from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the African Development Bank under the Enhanced Private Sector Assistance for Africa initiative.

Rehabilitation of aged and disease-infected farms

Initiatives under the facility included the allocation of financing to sustainably increase cocoa plant fertility and rehabilitate aged and disease-infected farms.

COCOBOD receives ISO certification

The Quality Control Company (QCC), a subsidiary of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), received certification for global quality and standards for cocoa products from the country.

The ISO certification 17020 and 17025 was acquired through the support of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, and the Swiss government.

The new certification makes Ghana the only country in the region with such a level of accreditation.

The cocoa sector accounts for 4.5% of Gross Domestic Products (GDP) and contributes 25% of Ghana’s merchandise export earnings.