Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) says it expects to boost cocoa production to one million metric tonnes ahead of a five-year target because of the many innovations being implemented to improve crop yield.
Dr. Yaw Adu Ampomah, the Deputy Chief Executive of Cocobod said the Board was also charting a new course that would enable it to achieve the one million tonnes within the five year period.
He said achieving one million metric tonnes of cocoa beans would impact significantly on the socio-economic conditions of the rural farmers.
Dr. Ampomah was speaking at a validation workshop aimed at soliciting ideas from sector stakeholders towards the reintroduction of the Ghana Cocoa Platform.
The workshop brought together various actors in the cocoa value chain, including the cocoa fertilizer suppliers, farmers, agronomists, exporters and buyers.
Ghana produced an unprecedented one million tonnes of cocoa during the 2010 to 2011 crop-year, thanks to good weather and improved farming techniques, but production declined to about 850,000 tonnes during last season within the same period.
Dr. Ampomah said the reintroduction of the Cocoa Platform would go a long way in ensuring that the crop is produced in a more efficient and sustainable manner, which will position the crop’s production value chain more profitable and, increase yields and reduce wastage in the sector.
Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, Chief Executive Officer of Cocobod, said as part of the drive to increase production to the targeted one million tonnes, Cocobod had introduced various interventions, including hand pollination and pruning among others.
He mentioned that the pollination, combined with fertilizer application and the cocoa farms irrigation project is likely to restore cocoa production, adding that, through artificial pollination, per hectare yield of the crop could hit two tonnes from the current average of 400 kilograms.
Mr. Aidoo indicated that – although the world cocoa market price has not been stable for some time – COCOBOD has put in place measures to ensure that remunerative farm-gate prices are paid to farmers in an effort to motivate them, improve their livelihoods and sustain production.
He said the move will help curb the menace of illegal small-scale mining and other issues currently confronting the cocoa sector.
On the reintroduction of the Cocoa Platform, Mr. Aidoo explained that the Ghana Cocoa Platform is back to help boost the crop production and urged promoters to place the cocoa farmer at the forefront of the industry.
He stressed that the sustainability and the success of the country’s cocoa industry depended largely on the farmer, adding that, the new cocoa platform would help promote the public-private partnership.
Richard Scobey, President of World Cocoa Foundation, called for collective dialogue among industry players to help solve the numerous challenges facing the country’s cocoa sector.
“No individual idea can solve the mirage of problems alone as this can be done through collaborations and partnerships,” he said.