Business News of Saturday, 23 February 2013

Source: Daily Graphic

Cocoa farmers assured of good prices

President John Dramani Mahama has assured cocoa farmers that his administration will continue to pay at least 70 per cent of the world market price of cocoa to them as part of measures to “sustain the production of the historic one million tonnes of cocoa”.

Additionally, he said, the government would execute other initiatives, including the distribution of 20 million hybrid cocoa seedlings free of charge over the next several years and the application of the hi-tech system to increase yield per hectare.

Delivering his first State of the Nation Address to the Sixth Parliament of the Fourth Republic in Accra on Thursday, President Mahama told the House that work was progressing on the $1.2 billion ammonia-urea based fertiliser processing plant at Nyankrom in the Shama District in the Western Region.

When completed, the plant, which is an initiative between Ghana and India, will have the capacity to process one million tonnes of fertiliser annually.

The plant has the potential to boost trade, create jobs and increase agricultural production locally.

Focusing on how to accelerate agricultural modernisation for job-creation, President Mahama said “the process of modernisation, involving the use of improved seed varieties, greater access to tractor services and peasant-oriented training on productivity enhancements, has resulted in dramatic increases in maize, rice and cassava production in the last four years”.

He said under a new World Bank facility on commercial agricultural development, land under irrigation throughout the country would be enlarged as a result of the initiatives on the Accra Plains and the Savannah zone.

The President indicated that a more coherent focus on fisheries and aquaculture development had been initiated, with the designation of a new Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture and the proposal to establish a new university dedicated to that sector.

He said his administration was taking steps to reform to ensure that the nation reaped the desired benefits from the fisheries and aquaculture sector in a sustainable manner.

Already, he said, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources had been tasked to ensure that mining was undertaken responsibly, while at the same time mining companies addressed the needs and expectations of communities.

“The government will rigidly enforce the laws of Ghana by addressing the illegal invasion of foreigners in our small-scale mining sector. This problem has been fully investigated and we have concluded that there is an unacceptable collusion between some Ghanaians and these foreigners to circumvent our laws,” President Mahama added.