The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) confirmed that its vision of producing one million metric tonnes of cocoa in the short-term could be realized, if the major constraints of poor extension support to cocoa farmers were improved.
Chief Executive of the Board, Tony Fofie, in a keynote address at a two-day workshop on cocoa extension methods in Accra said, it is fervent believe of COCOBOD that an effective and efficient extension system is critical to the attainment of this objective.
Sighting examples from other countries, he said Ghana is currently producing below its expected maximum yield. Our farmers produce an average of 400 kilogrammes of cocoa per hectare; whilst research plots at the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) produces over two tonnes of cocoa per the same hectare of land.He further affirmed that one key factor in bridging the gap between potential yield and actual output on farms is to introduce pluralism in the funding and delivery of cocoa extension programmes to farmers. Mr. Fofie called on all stakeholders to contribute in making the dream of achieving one million metric tonnes of cocoa in the short term a reality.
Mr. Fofie said there was the need to engage the youth in cocoa production, which has the average age of the Ghanaian cocoa farmer been between 50 and 55 years. A change in the mentality of farmers from approaching cocoa farming as, a family dogma to a business oriented enterprise is crucial to the success of this programme, he added.
In a statement read on his behalf, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, promised that government is always aware of its responsibilities towards cocoa farmers and their communities. The workshop, which ended yesterday, reviewed the current state of cocoa extension plans and also to develop new strategies in order to produce, a functioning and sustainable extension system for cocoa farmers.
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