GEPA plans export increase through coconut revitalisation project

Gifty Klenam, CEO of GEPA

To ensure an increase in export volumes and draw more foreign investment into the country, government is strengthening supply chains of exportable products through the Coconut Export Revitalisation Project.

“Our key vision under the current export strategies for the agricultural sector is to diversify our export base to ensure we address price inconsistency in external markets,” CEO of the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), Gifty Klenam, told journalists at the launch of GEPA’s Coconut Export Revitalisation Project at Gomoa Odumase in the Agona East District of the Central Region.

Many farmers, she lamented, sell farm lands at cheap prices to estate developers who buy these lands in the guise of using them for farming purposes but end up parcelling them up for real estate development within 2 years of acquiring the lands.

“some graduates have been unemployed close to five years and have relatives who own large acres of land, once they decide to come home to cultivate these farm lands, they meet the biggest disappointment; the farm lands have been sold to some estate developer and that graduate who could have earned a living through that farm land, is back on the street, hunting for a job,” she said.

She added that over the years, coconut production firms collapsed due to the Cape St. Paul Wilt Disease, which wreaked a lot of havoc on the coconut production sector. However, the revitalisation project has developed a hybrid seedling which is disease resistant.

Seedling procurement, which was a major problem for many of the farmers, is now a thing of the past, with the intervention of GEPA, she said.

“We are happy to offer support in this sector by starting with members of Coconut Producers & Exporters Association (COPEA), who are based in the central region with the support of 60,000 seedlings worth GH¢600,000, covering 1,000 acres. This intervention is necessary as the projected world demand for coconut and its products in 2021 is estimated to be about US$2.8 billion,” she said.

Also speaking at the event, president of COPEA, Mr. Ofori Ampofo Acquaye, said the intervention of GEPA came at the right time as they were losing a lot of export earnings due to disease infected coconuts.

“Initially, we were exporting a container a month which was worth 10,000 euros, we lost this because production was very low, so with the intervention of GEPA, when the trees begin to fruit, we can export close to eight containers which house about 34,000 fruits and this is worth 80,000 euros and that is not even the profit,” he said.

He explained that the farmers in the area are predominantly pineapple farmers, who also dabble in coconut farming.

Now, most farms have coconuts and pineapples growing side by side, and that this intervention will open more doors for investment, by way of having factories built and creating an avenue for the entire coconut fruit to be used for various products.