Netherlands Embassy supports sustainable cocoa production

BY: Rejoice Lavinia Eklu
Mr Jeroen Verheul (left), Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana, and Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo (right), Chief Executive Officer, COCOBOD, examining some cocoa products during an exhibition at the event. Picture: EDNA SALVO-KOTEY
Mr Jeroen Verheul (left), Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana, and Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo (right), Chief Executive Officer, COCOBOD, examining some cocoa products during an exhibition at the event. Picture: EDNA SALVO-KOTEY

The Netherland Embassy in Ghana has held a stakeholders’ engagement to support sustainable cocoa production in the country.

Dubbed, “Orange Cocoa Day 2021,” the event, held last Thursday in Accra, was facilitated by Solidarid, an international civil society organisation.

It was on the theme: “Promoting Service Delivery in Ghana’s Cocoa Landscape for Cocoa Sustainability”.

The programme featured cocoa stakeholders such as Rainforest Alliance, Sustainable Trade Initiative, Solidarid, Tropenbos Ghana, Carlgill Ghana, Cocoa Abraboapa and Tony’s Chocolonely, who exhibited their products and services

Improved production

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, said in his speech that cocoa production had seen a major improvement in the last few years and was likely to hit about 1.5 million tonnes in the medium term.

The country recently set a new cocoa productive record with 1.033 million tonnes of beans for the 2020/2021 season.

Mr Aidoo said as part of a new strategic plan geared towards intensifying cocoa farming, the COCOBOD introduced a new agriculture programme, christened “Productivity Enhancement Programme”.

“Instead of less than three bags per acre, our farmers have started seeing 10 bags per acre and some are registering 20 bags per acre,” he said.

Mr Aidoo added that the COCOBOD incorporated safety measures at all levels of implementation for prior intervention to mitigate the impact of risks on the farm and in the sector.

Challenge

Mr Aidoo said the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to the closure of oversea ports, warehouses and restrictions at various entry points was a challenge.

He, therefore, encouraged stakeholders to provide warehouses in the country to store the harvests of farmers.

“Our production was on target but the post-harvest was difficult due to the closure of ports, warehouses and other restrictions.

Even when contracts were signed and had to be delivered, we were unable to do so.

So we have a lot of cocoa stock in Ghana,” he stated.

Mr Aidoo noted that the cost of keeping cocoa in the country was far cheaper than keeping it elsewhere.

“ It is an area that a lot of service providers can go in,” he said.

Common interest

The Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Jeroen Verheul, said there was the need to engage the stakeholders to brainstorm and build consensus in tackling various issues in the sector.

He said the Orange Cocoa Day, being a maiden programme, was aimed at deepening understanding of cocoa sustainability.

Mr Verheul said the programme also sought to establish and enhance collaborations among stakeholders in the private and the public sectors in Ghana and Netherland.

“We have a common interest and objective to maintain the cocoa sector as a productive sustainable sector,” he said.

He indicated that the major outlook of making the cocoa sector sustainable was reducing child labour and deforestation as well as ensuring that cocoa farmers had a decent living income.

Supply chain

The Programme Manager for Solidarid, West Africa, Mr Hammond Mensah, elaborated on the programmes being initiated by his outfit to improve on the livelihood of cocoa farmers and others along the supply chain.

Among the initiatives was the Cocoa Rehabilitation and Intensification Programme (CORIP) under which rural service centres were being set up to train and financially support farmers to develop their ideas.