Time is ripe to bring new life to cocoa production – Osafo Maafo

Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, has said the time is ripe for Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire to develop strategies that will bring new life to the cocoa value chain and improve wellbeing of farmers.

“At the economic management level, we are looking at a possible insurance system for our farmers. We must begin to think outside the box; we should consider the cocoa farmers and their wellbeing. The crop continues to be our economic backbone,” he said at the Joint Commission Meeting/Cocoa Investor Forum in Accra.

The Investor forum, organised by Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, was in collaboration with the African Development Bank and it brought together actors in the cocoa value chain, private sector financial institutions, as well as the World Bank.

It was also aimed at discussing possible solutions required to transform the cocoa sectors in Ghana and in Cote d’Ivoire, framework for the Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod) investment programme and also joint commission statement in preparation for the World Bank Annual meeting.

The forum also discussed how to enhance farm level productivity, marketing and issues of interest in international affairs.

The meeting comes on the back of low cocoa prices on the international market and it is expected to devise strategies for mitigating the harsh effects of declining prices on cocoa farmers.

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Ghana and neighbour Cote d’Ivoire, last year, established joint cooperation on cocoa with the aim of seeking to influence the direction of decisions of global stakeholders on the commodity, especially those which affect its pricing, as the two countries account for more than 60 percent of total global output annually.

Mr. Osafo-Maafo explained that it is prudent to improve the crop yields per acre and called for urgent, effective and sustainable measures to first protect the farmers and the economies from the harsh effects of the price falls and chart a future path of greater self-reliance.

He proposed value addition to the crop and the need to increase local consumption of the end product.

“We should move away from producing only the crop beans and add value,” he stressed.

Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire produce about 2.35 million tonnes of cocoa, which is about 60 per cent of world production but the two countries only consume less than one percent of the produce, which the Senior Minister said is “abysmally low.”

He, therefore, called for deliberate major policy interventions from the two countries to ensure increased cocoa consumption locally.

He urged the Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, to quicken the implementation of the cocoa consumption of the school feeding programme this year.

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Increased domestic consumption, he said, would spur increased cocoa processing locally and provide the opportunity to industrialise and diversify the economies, create jobs and generate revenues for social and economic development.

Dr. Akoto said improving the living conditions of cocoa farmers will require massive investment.

“The enhancement of the welfare of cocoa farmers would require an improvement in farm productivity, sustainable domestic and international prices and a stronger producer organisation to ensure that the interest of farmers and producer countries are catered for while fostering a competitive domestic downstream sector,” he stated.

Dr. Akoto said increasing domestic value addition is long overdue, adding that expanding the downstream sector and increasing consumption of cocoa domestically were among the urgent steps needed to be taken.

“Our aim should be to gradually move to the end of the value chain, in order to realise the maximum gains and other related benefits that this process will catalyse,” he said.

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