The Chief Executive of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Mr. Joseph Boahen Aidoo, has disclosed that President Akufo-Addo administration spent the first two years in office clearing the arrears inherited from the Mahama government.
According to him, from 20th December to 31st December 2016, when President Mahama knew he had lost the 2016 election, the $400 million that was in the COCOBOD account was expended.
“We came into office, and spent the first two years to clear all the arrears inherited from the Mahama administration.
“The process of constructing cocoa roads is about to begin. Government has approved the disbursement of GH¢3 billion to construct 350 cocoa roads across the country. Secondary evacuation roads, i.e. trunk roads, are also going to be constructed,” he added.
Addressing a durbar of Chiefs at Daboase in the Wassa East District of the Western Region, he said, even though the former President’s claim to fame in the cocoa sector was the introduction of free fertilizers, the introduction of the policy led to a reduction of Ghana’s production capacity from 1 million tonnes in 2010/2011 to 740,000 metric tonnes in 2016.
Whilst Cote d’Ivoire, in 2010, was producing 1.1 million tonnes of cocoa, they increased the production of cocoa to 1.8 million tonnes, even though fertilizer is not distributed to their farmers free of charge.
“The free fertilizer policy hasn’t helped Ghanaian farmers. Upon assuming office in 2017, we revisited the old policy of subsidized fertilizers, mass cocoa spraying exercise, and introduced the hand pollination system, and, in 2017/2018, we produced 968,000 tonnes of cocoa,” Mr. Aidoo added.
Government, he added, has also reintroduced the policy scrapped by President Mahama in 2014 of supporting cocoa farmers who had cocoa farms infected by the swollen-shoot virus disease.
“Government is absorbing the absolute cost of rehabilitation of the farms – cost of cutting the trees, replanting and the foodstuffs being planted in the farms. COCOBOD maintains the farm for the first two years – the critical stages of the farm.
“Additionally, for every one hectare of cocoa farms infected with the swollen-shoot disease cleared, the farmer is compensated with GH¢1,000. If the farmer is a share-cropper, the land owner also receives GH¢1,000,” he added.
He told cocoa farmers that, from 2020/2021 cocoa season, every tonne of cocoa beans from Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire that will be sold on the international market will attract an additional $400 as a living income differential for farmers.
The $400 million living income differential would be added to the prevailing price of the crop, of which 70% would be paid to the farmer at the farm gate.
“For instance, today, the price is $2,300. So, $400 will be added to make it $2,700, and 70% ($1,890 or GH¢10,017) of the total will be paid to the farmer. This is unprecedented in Ghana’s cocoa industry,” he added.