The government has secured a $600 million stimulus package from the African Development Bank (AfDB) to revamp the cocoa sub-sector over the next seven years, starting next year.
The package is aimed at increasing cocoa production by introducing modern techniques and technology and shift away from the annual syndication of loans as capital investment.
This is one of the major highlights of a Cabinet Retreat at the Peduase Lodge, near Aburi in the Eastern Region, which started last Thursday.
It is the 64th Cabinet Meeting of the Akufo-Addo administration and the seventh retreat of the present Cabinet.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, who announced the package to journalists at the Peduase Lodge yesterday, said out of the amount, $200 million would be invested in domestic processing of cocoa beans, $82.7 million would be channelled into the rehabilitation of moribund farms, while $50 million would be directed into the expansion of warehouse capacity, with activities to promote the consumption of cocoa products taking investments of $7.5 million.
In addition, the government through the COCOBOD will invest $140.2 million to fight the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease, $10.6 million will be devoted to building farmer database, cocoa farm irrigation, which will be scaled up with $40.6 million, with hand pollination of cocoa flowers, a measure which has been touted as the new way to go, would also have a $61.1 million investment.
Mr Aidoo said the facility came into fruition through the initiatives of the Presidents of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire – Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and Mr Alassane Ouatarra, respectively.
Cote d’Iviore would also receive $600 million to boost its cocoa production activities under the arrangement, he said.
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The government has a vision to increase cocoa production from the current 700,000 tonnes to more than 1.5 million tonnes in the next few years.
Mr Aidoo stated that the amount had received Cabinet approval and was currently before Parliament for consideration.
The COCOBOD CEO told journalists that a comprehensive database on cocoa farmers would be built under the project, while mechanised forms of weeding would be adopted to phase out manual weeding.
Mr Aidoo said Nana Akufo-Addo’s government was poised to increase productivity and improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers across the country.
To that end, he said, talks were underway with the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) to develop a pension scheme for cocoa farmers.
Answering questions on cocoa roads, Mr Aidoo said the COCOBOD had signed a concession agreement with the government to improve cocoa roads in the next 10 years.
“The COCOBOD will be fixing and maintaining cocoa roads during the period. The procurement process has started,” Mr Aidoo told journalists.
He also insisted that the best scheme to ensure greater yield was subsidising fertiliser prices.
Last month, COCOBOD announced it had realised $40 million from the living income differential (LID) after selling 100,000 tonnes of cocoa on the futures market.
The LID is an initiative of COCOBOD and Le Conseil du Café Cacao (CCC) of Cote d’Ivoire and it mandates buyers of cocoa from the two countries to pay an extra $400 on every tonne of cocoa they purchase.
It became effective from July this year as a credible step by the two leading suppliers of cocoa to attract fairer prices for their cocoa and higher incomes for farmers.
Mr Aidoo said more than 1,200 extension farmers had been engaged and were currently undergoing training to augment the extension services to cocoa farmers to increase yield.