The Ghana Cocoa Board has attributed the decline in the production of cocoa in the country to the free fertiliser policy that was introduced by the erstwhile National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.
According to COCOBOD, Ghana was producing one million metric tonnes of cocoa which later dropped to less than 800,000 metric tonnes when the free fertiliser policy was introduced.
Officials revealed that the policy had not favoured the beneficiaries since the fertilisers went into wrong hands and some were smuggled into neighbouring countries and as far as Cameroon.
To this end, the Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, has announced a new policy to sell fertilisers to cocoa farmers in the country at a subsidised price.
The Cocoa Board CEO disclosed this in an interview with Class News after a meeting in Kumasi with regional and district cocoa farmers from the six cocoa-growing regions in the country.
The meeting was to engage the farmers on the happenings in the industry and discussions towards the new price for the next cocoa season.
Mr Aidoo said his office would introduce other policies that will benefit cocoa farmers across the country.
“The fertiliser policy that existed before the new government came in was free fertiliser and it has not helped the farmers. You heard it from the farmers’ own mouths that the free fertiliser has not helped them but has rather brought down the production of cocoa in Ghana. While before then we had 1million metric tonnes, with the introduction of the free fertiliser over the last three years we have been producing less than 800,000 metric tonnes on the average, which is not in the interest of the nation. This is because fertilisers are finding their way to neighbouring countries as far as even to Cameroon. Many beneficiaries who are not farmers have had the opportunity to get fertilisers. Now we are placing a price on it, that is, a subsidised price and therefore government is taking 53 per cent and the farmers are paying GHS80 per bag. That is the new policy,” he told regional correspondent Hafiz Tijani.
Mr Aidoo further indicated that COCOBOD would engage farmers to determine the price for the next cocoa season.
He said: “Pretty soon we will be engaging the farmers about the next cocoa season prices. The next season starts on 1 October. Now we are still in the 2016/17 cocoa season and the price we all know has been GHS7600 per tonne. This was pegged on the basis that the international price was averaged at $2,900. That time, the price volatility was between $2,200 and $2,700. As we speak today, the price volatility is running between $1,800 and $2,100, so we have pegged it at an average of $1,900 per tonne.
“You realise that about $1000 has been lost from the international market. But the imperative is that we are doing forward sales. Therefore, even as the cocoa trees are flowering, we’ve already sold our cocoa. Next year, we are going to enter a difficult year for the cocoa industry. We have to sell our cocoa for a lower price but then we have to decide whether to reduce the producer price or let it stay there or increase the price.”
Western-North regional chief cocoa farmer Nana Nicholas Cobbinah, who spoke on behalf of the farmers, commended government for the interventions to help the sector. He urged cocoa farmers to adopt the new fertiliser policy.