President John Dramani Mahama has directed COCOBOD to establish a Cocoa Stabilisation Fund to cushion cocoa, coffee and sheanut farmers in the coming years.
The fund, he said, would help government to buy cocoa at the same or higher price even if there were falls in the price of the commodity at the international markets.
He said: “The one million tonnes should not be your target, but you need to work hard to produce beyond that limit as government is ready to provide all the necessary support to achieve your goals.”
President Mahama said this on Wednesday when members of the Cocoa, Coffee and Sheanut (COCOSHE) called on him at the Flagstaff House,Kanda.
The farmers were at the Presidency to thank the President for the recent increase in cocoa prices and bonus for farmers engaged in the production of the three commodities.
Government, a week ago, increased producer price of 64 kilogrammes of cocoa from GHC 212.00 in the 2013/2014 farming season to GHC 345.00 in the 2014/2015 cocoa season and increased their bonus per tonne from GHC2.00 to GHC5.00.
The increase is meant to motivate farmers to step up their production and to acquire more farmlands to increase production.
President Mahama denounced the use of doctored scales to cheat cocoa farmers throughout the country and appealed to all to be vigilant to eliminate the fraud that was denying the farmers the benefits of their sweat.
He promised to invest GHC600 million to work on roads in the six cocoa growing regions of the country to increase accessibility to commercial and marketing centres.
President Mahama said government would continue to offer all the necessary assistance to encourage the farmers to increase their yields since it remained the mainstay of the country’s economy.
He said although oil production had started in the country, it accounted for only $700 million as compared to cocoa that earned the country a total of $three billion last year alone.
President Mahama said cocoa farming was good business and called on the youth to engage in farming as the future was in their hands adding; “we need to see cocoa production as a business and not for old people in the rural areas.”
He said apart from the provision of seedlings and the mass cocoa spraying exercise under the rehabilitation exercise, government would also provide everything that would enhance increased production.
President Mahama, who later commissioned a building complex of COCOSHE around Airport West, said cocoa farmers had worked hard for the development of Ghana through farming and government would continue to support them.
He challenged more women to venture into agricultural production, especially in the production of cocoa, coffee and sheanuts.
Alhaji Alhassan Bukari, National President of COCOSHE, who described the increase in producer price as “gargantuan and unprecedented,” said cocoa production would be increased as the prices of the commodity was motivating a lot more into agriculture.
He said the price increase would also go a long way to help the farmers to recover their costs and challenged them to contribute their quota towards the betterment of all Ghanaians.
Dr Stephen Opuni, Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, said the outfit was putting in measures to eliminate child labour in cocoa growing areas and appealed to all stakeholders to play their roles responsibly.
He said the free fertilizer and free input programmes would help to resuscitate the cocoa industry and urged more farmers to go into agriculture.