Ghana expects its annual cocoa output to rise to 1.6 million tonnes by 2026.
This will be made possible through the yearly distribution of 60 million hybrid seedlings.
It will add a total of 750,000 tonnes to the existing output within 10 years.
Should the hybrid seedlings be properly managed by the farmers, the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) estimates that it will add about 75,000 tonnes per annum to the national output, currently averaging 850,000 tonnes.
The board anticipates that each year’s distribution will cover 50,000 hectares of land, thereby bringing to 500,000 hectares the total size of land to be covered under the new programme.
COCOBOD expects that a hectare will yield 1.5 tonnes of cocoa, the Board’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni, told journalists during a tour of some cocoa roads and farms in the Eastern Region.
Officials of German-based GZ Bank and one of COCOBOD’s financiers, were part of a tour which took the entourage to cocoa communities such as Berekumanso and Akwadum.
Dr Opuni said the 60 million seedlings were to be realised from COCOBOD’s 331 nursery sites across the country.
He added that the seedlings, which would be given out for free to the farmers, was aimed at motivating the youth to venture into cocoa production while encouraging the older ones to remain in cocoa farming.
He also noted that COCOBOD would provide the farmers with free agro chemicals and fertilisers.
“Farmers can start picking the seedlings from next month and we hope this will get a lot of people into cocoa farming,” he noted.
He said it had employed 4,800 casual labourers nationwide to make it easier for farmers to harvest the seedlings.
COCOBOD,since last year, has committed to invest US$150 million yearly for the next five years into the construction and rehabilitation of roads in cocoa growing communities.
Some of the roads which are to be constructed and rehabilitated include, Adeiso-Asamankese, Asamankese-Suhum, Osenase-Akwatia, Apedwa-Kyebi, and the Suhum-Srobiano roads.
Dr Opuni, after inspecting one of the cocoa roads at Berekumanso in the Eastern Region, said the roads were being constructed to ease the stress of transporting cocoa produced in the villages.
The Chief of Berekusumanso, Nana Annor Mpere, expressed his gratitude to COCOBOD for the construction of the road.
He also commended the board for also citing one of its nurseries in the town, a gesture the chief said resulted in the creation of jobs for the youth in the community.
He, however, pleaded with COCOBOD to extend its cocoa scholarship programme to students in the community.
Youth in Cocoa
The management of COCOBOD and GZ Bank after the tour held a durbar for the farmers in the region.
Dr Opuni assured the farmers of the board’s continuous support to ensure that the production of cocoa is improved and made sustainable.
He also urged the youth to sign up onto the Youth in Cocoa Programme in order to enjoy some of the benefits and improve their wellbeing.
He said the programme had so far identified 40,000 youth and appealed to chiefs and land owners to release lands to the youth for cocoa production.