The Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Mr. Joseph Boahen Aidoo, is optimistic of achieving its 2018/19 crop year harvest target of 900,000 metric tonnes, as it seeks to increase yields from the current three bags per acre to over 20 bags/acre in the next three years.
In the 2017/2018 crop season, COCOBOD set for itself a target of producing 850,000 metric tonnes of cocoa. This target has been revised higher for the 2018/2019 crop season.
“Our forecast is 900,000 metric tonnes, and we are on course and will be able to meet the production target. We want to move the productivity from the low average yield of 3 bags per acre to at least 20 bags,” Mr. Aidoo told the B&FT after a media interaction with some selected senior journalists in Accra.
Speaking on a wide range of issues within the global commodities market, Mr. Aidoo indicated that although the world cocoa market price has not been stable for some time, COCOBOD has put in place measures to ensure that good farm-gate prices are paid to farmers in an effort to motivate them, improve their livelihoods and sustain production.
This, he said, is targetted at curbing the menace of illegal small-scale mining and other issues currently confronting the cocoa sector.
Cocoa remains the heartbeat of the country’s economy. The industry has over the years created employment for millions of Ghanaians and serves as a major source of foreign exchange for the economy.
He stated that approximately 40 percent of the total 1.6million hectares of cocoa farms is unproductive – leaving the industry to depend on only 60 percent.
As part of the drive to increase production to the targetted 1.5 million metric tonnes in the medium-term, the Board has introduced various interventions – including hand pollination, mass pruning, and CODAPEC-HITECH and motoring slashing among others.
He mentioned that the pollination, combined with fertiliser application and the cocoa farms irrigation project, is likely to restore cocoa production; adding that through artificial pollination, per hectare yield of the crop could increase dramatically.
The country operates a two-cycle cocoa year consisting of a 33-week main crop (October-June) that is mainly exported to Europe and Asia, and the minor light crop (11-week) which is discounted to local processing firms including the state-owned Cocoa Processing Company (CPC).
Ghana produced an unprecedented one million tonnes of cocoa during the 2010-11 crop-year, thanks to good weather and improved farming techniques – but production declined to about 850,000 tonnes.