The 2013 Young Cocoa Farmer of the Year, Mr Samuel Torbi, has made a passionate appeal to the government to make start-up capital available to the youth to encourage them to go into farming.
“Before someone can engage in farming, he needs capital. It is the reason some of our youth are not engaging in farming. The labour cost alone is not easy because you cannot use only your strength. Our grandfathers and fathers are weak and have huge cocoa farms that have been left and need attention but there is no money to rehabilitate those farms,” he said in an interview with the Daily Graphic.
According to him, many young people were going into galamsey because, unlike farming, it was not capital intensive.
“In my area, for instance, I bought land for about 10 people and encouraged them to farm. That has inspired some of the youth to think that if a farmer could assist others, then farming is a profitable venture,” he said.
When Mr Torbi won the award last year, he took home 52 bags of fertiliser for his cocoa farm and GH¢3,000 as his prize, sponsored by the Ghana Cocoa Board. This month, he will be the voice of Ghana’s young cocoa farmers at two important conferences — the World Cocoa Conference (WCC) in Amsterdam, Holland, and the Choco Vision in Davos.
The two conferences are scheduled for June 9-13, 2014 and June 17-19, 2014, respectively.
The WCC will be attended by experts and speakers from governments, chocolate companies and farms to address the most important issues in cocoa production to date — fair trade for farmers, eradicating child labour and empowering cocoa producers.
Mr Torbi said while at the two events, he would use the opportunity to make a case for fair cocoa pricing and the future of the youth in the sustainable production of the crop.
“We are talking about sustainability in cocoa production that can only be possible if we empower the youth today. They are the future of cocoa production,” he stated.
To stem the trend of young people in farming communities drifting to Accra and other major cities in search of better living conditions, Mr Torbi urged the government to go beyond providing capital for farmers to look at the price of fertiliser, an input he described as a yield booster.
“Four years ago, the price of a bag of fertiliser was GHˆ¢14. It went up the following year to GH¢32 and by last year it was GH¢52. Most of the youth are complaining about it because it is making cocoa farming very expensive,” he lamented.
He said although there was subsidy on fertiliser, the product was still expensive and beyond the reach of most farmers.
Add value to Ghana cocoa
Mr Torbi also made a strong case for the country to add value to its cocoa, instead of exporting it in the raw state.
“We have to use a greater part of the cocoa produced in our country. It will help us because when we send it outside, they buy it at any price at all. When we add value to it, it will create a lot more jobs for people who are not farmers,” he said.
He was full of praise for COCOBOD extension officers at Asensoho in the Assin Fosu District for playing a crucial role in the growing interest in cocoa farming among the youth there.