The Senior Minister, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, has charged the Joint Cocoa Committee of Ghana and Cote d’ Ivoire to come up with programmes and policies that would improve the welfare of the farmers in the sector.
He said in spite of the numerous challenges bedevilling the sector, improving the quality of life of the farmers should be the topmost priority of the committee because it was the farmers who were producing the beans.
Mr Osafo-Maafo said this when he chaired the Cocoa Investors’ Forum and meeting of Joint Technical Committee of Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana in Accra. The forum sought to find ways of attracting private sector investments into the cocoa sectors of both countries.
“It is obvious that the cocoa industry is the backbone of both countries as their economies depend largely on it. This means that lots of their nationals are engaged in the industry,” Osafo-Maafo stated.
“Ghana has over a million farmers, with most of them in the cocoa industry and Cote d’ Ivoire may even have more. We should, therefore, consider how to improve the lives of all these farmers,” Osafo-Maafo added.
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On the part of Ghana, he said the government had already taken steps to introduce an insurance package for farmers in the country.
Osafo-Maafo therefore urged the committee to come up with more of such programmes that would help farmers.
Improving yield per acre
Mr Osafo-Maafo also indicated the need for the two countries to look at improving the yield per acre and not just concentrate on increasing production.
“We must not only be happy about the production but look at our production per acre. If for the same acre one can get x bags and for the same acre one can get 2x bags then we must take into consideration methodology to improve the yield per acre,” he explained.
“If we do, then the two countries could economise on land for other uses,” he added.
Plans underway to improve lives of farmers
Delivering his keynote address, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, said plans were already underway to improve the welfare of cocoa farmers in the country.
He said the government was providing solutions to the swollen shoot disease, and providing support to community infrastructure, all in a bid to enhance the welfare of cocoa farmers.
“Improvement in the welfare of our cocoa farmers will require an improvement in farm productivity, sustainable domestic and international prices and solid partnerships to ensure that the interest of farmers and producer countries is catered for internationally and locally while fostering competitive domestic supply chains that will feed local industries built on cocoa,” he stated.
“Investments for improving farm productivity will involve the control of the viral cocoa swollen shoot disease, increase farmer access to cost-effective inputs, and extension services and other support in community infrastructure to enhance the welfare of the farmer,” he explained.