President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and three other former Presidents were last Wednesday honoured for their respective roles in revamping Ghana’s cocoa sector.
The three former Presidents who received plaques and citations were Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings, Mr John Agyekum Kufuor and Mr John Dramani Mahama.
While Mr Kufuor was present to receive his award, the first daughter of Flt Lt Rawlings, Dr Zanetor Rawlings, received it on behalf of his father. There was, however, no representative to receive the award on behalf of former President Mahama.
Dr Zenator Rawlings (right), receiving a citation on behalf of her father, Flt Lt Rawlings from Mr Samuel Adimado, MD, Kuapa Kokoo, for his leadership and governance in the cocoa sector
Seven other awardees, who were recognised for advancing the cause of the cocoa industry, were the Chief of Staff at the Office of the President, Mrs Frema Osei-Opare; Nana Frimpong Abebrese II, who established Kuapa, a cocoa farmer; Flt Lt Joseph Bampo Atiemo (retd); the acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) and former deputy CEO of COCOBOD, Dr Kofi Koduah Sarpong; Twin Trading Company founder, Ms Pauline Tiffen, who was instrumental in the setting up of Kuapa and the President of Kuapa Kokoo, Madam Fatimah Ali.
The awards were presented at the maiden edition of Green Lecture series by Kuapa Kokoo Co-operative Farmers and Marketing Union with the support of Millennium Promise Alliance, a not-for-profit organisation, dedicated to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations (UN).
Short citation videos depicting some of the contributions of the awardees to the cocoa sector preceded the presentations.
Former President Rawlings, for instance, was shown carrying a sack of cocoa beans on his shoulder in the heady days of the June 4 Revolution when students were roped in to assist with carting of cocoa locked up in the hinterlands.
After receiving the award on his father’s behalf, Dr Rawlings, who is also the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for Korle Klottey, said it was her wish that cocoa farmers benefited more and enjoyed better lives from the crop they grew.
She expressed regret that a species of ants, which hitherto helped in dealing with various diseases that plagued cocoa trees, had been killed and replaced with a lot of toxic pesticides.
Mr Kufuor, who said he had benefited immensely from cocoa since 1947 when an uncle joined in establishing the Ghana COCOBOD, considered the award as his retirement testimonial.
He recounted that when he took office, farmers were cutting down their diseased cocoa trees and growing citrus in their place, which he said necessitated the introduction of a mass spraying exercise which culminated in an increase in cocoa production from 340,000 tonnes to an all-time high of over 700,000 tonnes.
Receiving President Akufo-Addo’s award on his behalf, Mrs Osei-Opare gave an assurance of the President’s commitment to support the cocoa industry and reiterated the government’s commitment to process at least 30 per cent of cocoa in the country.
The Managing Director of Kuapa Kokoo, Mr Samuel Adimado, acknowledged Nana Abebrese II for his vision, as well as his wife, Madam Hannah Frimpong Abebrese, who contributed to the establishment of the name, Kuapa Kokoo.
“The relentless efforts of trail-blazing Ghanaian leaders such as Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings, Flt. Lt Joseph B. Atiemo (Retd), Dr Kofi Koduah Sarpong, Mrs Frema Osei-Opare have been phenomenal in saving the country’s cocoa sector.
“We recall, your Excellency J.J. Rawlings, your leadership role when cocoa was piled at buying centres in the hinterlands. We will never forget how you rallied the support of the youth and students to carry cocoa to the ports for export. Kuapa Kokoo is forever indebted to you,” he said.
Mr Adimado also lauded former President Kufuor for initiating landmark policies between 2001 and 2008, which led to the reactivation of Agricultural Extension Services and subsequently resulted in Ghana recording an all-time record of cocoa production in 2004/2005 and 2010/2011 cocoa seasons.
He said President Akufo-Addo also facilitated a strategic pact between Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire in March 2018 to harmonise the cocoa marketing policies of both countries by setting equal pricing for the commodity in both the local and international markets and put an end to smuggling.