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Cocoa stakeholders meet on government’s new Inputs policy

Accra, July 7, GNA – Access to cocoa inputs
for farmers is expected to scale up with the introduction of the new Cocoa
Input Policy soon to be implemented.

The policy would ensure Ghanaian cocoa farmers
get requisite rations of cocoa inputs at subsidised prices on the market.

Mr William Agyapong Quaitoo, the Deputy
Minister of Food and Agriculture, speaking at the Ghana Cocoa Inputs Workshop
on Friday, said the policy where free inputs had benefitted a section of
farmers to the neglect of others, had not yielded desired results and was thus
unsustainable.

The workshop, hosted by Ghana Cocoa Board with
the support of the World Cocoa Foundation and Solidaridad, was to deliberate
and suggest ways to enhance the policy for the growth of the cocoa sector and
to increase production of the crop to the government’s target of one million
tonnes in 2020.

He explained that the current trend could be
changed if the inputs were available and accessible to all farmers on the open
market at subsidised prices, putting in place a credit system to support
farmers secure the full complement of the recommended inputs.

“Let us develop the capacity of the producer
to secure credit at a reasonable cost to support his farming business. Input
credit at reasonable cost can be possible if the creditor believes the producer
has the capacity to use the credit to create wealth.

“The farmers can invest for profitable returns
if we help them to acquire the requisite managerial and leadership skills
particularly when government has decided on key innovative strategies such as
artificial polling trip and solar irrigation,” he said.

He said the NPP government was committed to
“reverse the dwindling fortunes of cocoa farming and return to economic levels
of productivity, adding they would partner with stakeholders to develop the
best workable policy document for inputs delivery and effective organisation of
cocoa farmers.

Mr Quaitoo noted that climate change caused by
industrialisation and unsustainable agricultural practices had altered the
dynamics of the farming seasons.

This, he said, coupled with the effects of
pests and diseases had resulted in a consistent decline of considerable volumes
of cocoa production.

He said the downward direction of both
production and price of cocoa globally had placed the sustainability of the
cocoa industry under ‘serious threat’.

Mr Vincent Frimpong Manu, the Country Director
of World Cocoa Foundation, embraced government’s new cocoa inputs policy,
saying “it would create an enabling environment to improve farmers’ access to
inputs in and in right quantities and in a more cost effective way”.

He said as the convener in the private sector
value chain, they were committed to working with the Ghana Cocoa Board and
other stakeholders to achieve a more sustainable cocoa sector in Ghana.

Mr Manu said they had been in partnership with
the government on various projects and programmes including the African Cocoa
Initiative.

He added that to address environmental
challenges in the cocoa sector, they were implementing a Climate Smart Cocoa
Programme in the West African sub-region and providing technical support to
COCOBOD to help develop a Climate Smart Cocoa standard for Ghana.

He noted that the WCF had engaged in several
efforts including investment in education in cocoa communities to reduce child
labour in those areas and respond to land tenure challenges in the cocoa
sector.

Mr Manu urged all stakeholders in the cocoa
sector to take keen interest in the new policy as its implementation was
colossal and government alone could not shoulder.

Mr Ron Strikker, the Ambassador of the Kingdom
of the Netherlands to Ghana, lauded government’s commitment to building a
strong agricultural sector adding that there was the need to support cocoa
farmers to become attractive for private sector investment and to be able to
access credit on their own terms.

Mr Emmanuel Opoku, Executive Director Cocoa
Health and Extension Division, said there was the need for stakeholders to find
a suitable and better way of financing the inputs.

GNA

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