The Municipal Chief Executive of Sunyani, Justina Owusu Banahene, has joined the clarion call for youth to venture into cocoa farming and replace aging cocoa farmers so as to sustain production of the seasonal crop, and also make themselves economically productive.
The advent of technology and innovations, she noted, has transformed cocoa production and made it more attractive than before – hence the need for youth to embrace it as a low-hanging fruit to better their fortunes in order to contribute their quota to the country’s socioeconomic development, saying: “The present dynamics in cocoa farming position it at a better place for the youth, instead of engaging in activities like illegal mining”.
There is a growing concern about the fast-aging population of cocoa farmers in the country, which has been identified as a threat to sustainability of the cocoa industry. Research establishes that the average age of cocoa farmers is around 55 years. The youth have therefore been targetted as the future of cocoa production.
The Sunyani MCE also urged the working population, especially those in the formal sector, to take up cocoa farming as a part-time business to broaden the crop’s production base to among others enhance the country’s foreign exchange earnings from cocoa beans.
Ms. Owusu Banahene was speaking at the opening ceremony of the 2019 Cocoa Day celebration slated to be held in Sunyani. The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘Sustainable Cocoa Production for Wealth and Health’. She alluded to the economic and health benefits of cocoa, indicating that the proposed provision of cocoa drinks to school pupils under the School Feeding Programme is a worthy one.
Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Ahia Clottey, Chairman of the Cocoa Day Planning Committee who outlined programmes for the celebration, said the erstwhile Brong Ahafo Region has produced eleven national Best Cocoa farmers – hence, hosting the Day in Sunyani is in recognition of now the Bono, Bono East and Ahafo Regions’ contribution to cocoa production.
The activities he mentioned included a health walk that preceded the opening ceremony; exhibitions by cocoa processors, input dealers, cosmetics dealers, pharmaceutical companies, packaging firms, hand-made chocolatiers, hoteliers and corporate bodies; and a grand durbar of chiefs, farmers and stakeholders on 1st October, 2019. The durbar is expected to be graced by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who will announce the new cocoa price.
Since 2016, COCOBOD celebrates Cocoa Day annually in recognition of the contributions by hardworking cocoa farmers and stakeholders, as well as to create awareness on the health and nutritional benefits of cocoa and promote its consumption.
Justina Owusu Banahene, Sunyani MCE