Cocoa farmers with the Ghana Civil Society Cocoa Platform (GCCP) have warned that the country could lose more productive cocoa farms to illegal mining or palm production if farm gate price for cocoa beans is not increased to make up for the high cost of production.
They said the continued rise in the cost of farm inputs such as fertilisers, pesticides, transporting of beans and farm machinery as well as the cost of labour is affecting cocoa production, causing them to lose huge sums of money.“We call on the government to intervene to make farm inputs readily accessible and available to enable us to increase our yields as well as make enough profits to cater for our families,” they said.
The cocoa farmers made the clarion appeal during the GCCP Annual General Meeting organized in Accra by SEND Ghana, with support from its German partners, INKOTA Netzwerk.
The event was used to among others discuss issues bothering on income, child labour and human rights of the farmers as catalyst for ensuring improved welfare of cocoa farmers.
It also created the platform for participants to deliberate on ways to increase government and private sector responsiveness to sustain the cocoa sector.
Ismail Pomasi, Council Chairman of Cocoa Abrabopa Association (CAA) advocated for investment in small-scale irrigation systems as the sure way to boost cocoa production in Ghana.
He is worried climate change is negatively impacting cocoa production at a time that land area for farming activities is reducing drastically through illegal mining or palm production, and believes that irrigation is the best way for Ghanaian cocoa farmers.“Cocobod and the chocolate companies must support farmers to build irrigation systems across cocoa growing communities in Ghana; substantive investment is needed in irrigation systems to help sustain our cocoa and the cocoa industry in Ghana” Pomasi said.
The National Board Secretary and Administrator of World Cocoa Farmers Organisation, Moses Gyan Asiedu, said the farmers as main producers of an important commodity were faced with issue of low income.“The rising cost of production is coming from all angels such as fertilisers, cutlasses and machinery used in spraying and pruning.“The prices of equipment are going up and the farm gate price keeps fluctuating and this does not reflect in the high rising cost of production, causing farmers to lose huge sums of money.
There was no way the government would be able to sustain the cocoa sector if they did not address the issue of pricing” he said.
Dr. Emmanuel Ayifah, deputy country director for SEND Ghana, said it was worrying to note that cocoa communities and farmers who produced such important crop continued to remain poor.“We will keep on engaging government and private sector in this fight for good pricing; there is the need for the government to develop policies and provide infrastructure that would change fortunes of cocoa growing communities” he added.