About 40 percent, or 800,000 hectares of the country’s over 1.9 million hectares of cocoa farms, are either over-aged or affected by swollen-shoot virus disease.
That informed government’s recently launched rehabilitation programme to cut down and replant diseased and over-aged cocoa farms across the country.
However, industry experts are concerned that government’s budget is constrained since it is being prioritised to fight COVID-19, hence they advocate a public-private partnership (PPP) approach as the soundest approach to deliver sustainable cocoa production.
There are several opportunities that exist for the private sector to tap into, and COCOBOD is ready to work with private partners that can comply with its prescriptions.
For instance, with increased calls for the use sealable electronic scales so that issues of adjusting will no longer be a problem to the disadvantage of farmers, private participation could play a crucial role.
Solidaridad West Africa, in collaboration with Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED)-COCOBOD, last week organised a trip to cocoa-producing communities in three regions – Bono, Western North and Central – for selected media practitioners.
Analysts believe a time is coming when it will no longer be sustainable for government to continue providing free services and inputs to farmers, hence the need to encourage public-private partnerships in the sector.
Programme Manager for CORIP and Head of Access to Finance, Solidaridad West Africa, Mr. Mensah said: “We want a situation where government is no longer providing free services, because it discourages the creation of private markets”.
Funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Accra, CORIP II uses public funds to leverage private sector investments from commercial banks and impact investors for cocoa rehabilitation and intensification.
The objective of CORIP II is to speed and scale up within the cocoa supply chain the creation of SMEs to deliver market-based intensification and rehabilitation services to farmers in the targetted countries.
About 800,000 hectares of cocoa farms are to be rehabilitated, and the rehabilitation programme can create tremendous opportunities for SMEs. Another example is that government’s new extension strategy will invite some private participation.
Owing to the national importance of cocoa, government plays a formidable role in its development; but this cannot be sustained over time, particularly if we want to get the best from the industry. The farmers must be trained to eventually wean themselves off government subsidies and treat the vocation strictly along the lines of efficient agri-business.