It was an unexpected turn of events at the Nana Agyemang Prempeh Park in Tepa last Saturday when hundreds of enthusiastic cocoa farmers interrupted the President of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo during his address at the official opening of the 2023/24 cocoa season
As soon as the President announced the 63% hike in the producer price of cocoa, which is the record highest in the last 15 years, it was greeted with rapturous excitement from the crowd, with hundreds of farmers suddenly swarming the podium amidst singing and dancing, forcing the President to suspend his speech for several minutes to respond to the cheers and praises from the over joyous farmers.
Not even several pleas from the Master of Ceremony (MC) to the farmers to allow the President complete his speech were heeded by the jubilant farmers who continued to demonstrate their gratitude to the President, the Minister for Food and Agriculture and Management of Ghana Cocoa Board for the extraordinarily life-changing moment of their lives.
The newly announced cocoa producer price of GH ₵ 20,943.00 Ghana cedis per tonne, which was set by the Cocoa Producer Price Committee, made of industry experts and farmer representatives, signifies a substantial increase of 63% over the previous price of GH₵ 12,800 per tonne. This translates into GH ₵ 1,308.00 Ghana cedis per bag or its equivalent of 64kg.
The quantum increase is in line with the constant objectives of Government and COCOBOD to ensure better compensation for the hard work and dedication of cocoa farmers, who have been grappling with numerous challenges.
The excitement by the cocoa farmers was re-echoed by the National President of the Cocoa, Coffee and Sheanut Farmers Association, Alhaji Alhassan Bukari, who commended Government and Management of Cocobod, for responding to the cries and concerns of Ghanaian cocoa farmers for a substantial increase in producer price this season.
The President’s promise to cocoa farmers
Apart from giving farmers a fair and remunerative share for their efforts, The President reiterated that government will continue to support farmers in diverse ways to improve production and their well-being.
“Government, through COCOBOD will continue to adopt innovations aimed at improving the welfare of the Ghanaian farmer through the implementation of productivity enhancement programmes and remunerative producer pricing” The President noted.
He therefore expressed optimism that the programmes implemented by COCOBOD will enable the country to attain a significant level of self-reliance, promote industrialization and provide adequate cushion against the adverse effects of price shocks, adding “We will not relent on our promise to creating positive and permanent changes in the cocoa and agricultural sector of our economy”
Agric Minister declares ‘war’ on smuggling
On his part, the Minister for Food and Agriculture, Hon. Dr. Bryan Acheampong, gave a firm assurance about government’s resolve to deal with smuggling which is one of the biggest cankers plaguing the country’s cocoa industry.
He said pragmatic steps had been put in place to drastically deal with individuals and groups perpetuating the heinous act which denies the country and farmers the reward for their toils and sweats.
“The sad part of this unfortunate situation is that individuals who are engaged in this nefarious act of smuggling are neither farmers nor staff of Cocobod, but rather private merchants who regrettably contribute nothing to the country’s production capacity. But I want to assure you that we are now ready as a country to deal with this menace of smuggling should it raise its ugly head again.” Hon. Bryan Acheampong further pledged.
COCOBOD CE’s appeal to farmers
The Chief Executive of Ghana Cocoa Board, in a statement, urged cocoa farmers to continue to adopt the numerous productivity enhancement programmes, particularly pruning and hand pollination, being rolled out by COCOBOD to boost productivity and improve their incomes.
He reiterated COCOBOD’s commitment to the welfare of farmers, including offering them a fair pricing consistent with global trends.