President John Agyekum Kufuor on Monday announced an upward adjustment of the producer price of cocoa from GH 9,015 cedis (9.15 million cedis) per tonne to GH 9,050 cedis (9.5 million cedis), effective from the 2007/2008 main crop season. With this, the Ghanaian farmer's share of the FOB now stands at 72.11 per cent up from the less than 50 per cent, they were receiving seven years ago.
The increase comes at a time when the price of cocoa on the international market had dropped from 1,900 dollars to about 1,500 dollars.Addressing this year's Cocoa Day at Bibiani in the Western Region, President Kufuor said the Government has also directed the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) to ensure that bonus to farmers was paid in two installments every year.The first would be in July and the final payment before the end of the year.
The arrangement is meant to help them with funds, in the absence of micro-credit schemes, to support their children+IBk-s education at the start of the academic year.President Kufuor said other interventions introduced include the increase of the COCOBOD scholarship award beneficiaries from 2,500 students to 7,500, tarring of a total of 531 kilometres of roads linking cocoa growing communities in the six cocoa farming regions, distribution of 1,000,000 treated mosquito nets and the provision of solar street lights and solar torch lights.These, he said, were aimed at making sure that farmers would not only enjoy tangible benefits of their hard work but also discourage the drift of the youth to urban areas.
He said the Government's policy measures since the year 2001 had not only rejuvenated the cocoa sector but improved the real returns to farmers.President Kufuor used the day to convey the nation+IBk-s gratitude to the Ghanaian cocoa farmer for the invaluable contribution to the economy.The Finance and Economic Planning Minister, Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, said the Government was determined to ensure that loans were given to farmers at reasonable interest rates.He said they wanted to see agricultural interest rate pegged between 5-10 per cent with a maturity period of between 5 and 10 years. Mrs Frema Opare Osei, Deputy Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, advised the farmers not to use children for labour-intensive and any other jobs on their farms likely to pre-dispose them to hazardous chemicals.Mr Isaac Osei, the Chief Executive of COCOBOD, warned that the Board would not allow cheating of the farmers through the adjustment of weighing scales by unscrupulous Purchasing Clerks.He said achieving the twin vision of increasing cocoa production and processing of 40 per cent of the output required hard work and encouraged the farmers to take advantage of the various interventions such as the mass cocoa spraying and hi-tech fertilizers to boost their output.Nana Yaw Gyebi, Omanhene of Anhwiaso, appealed to the Government to see to it that cocoa processing factories were sited closer to the cocoa producing areas.The Western Region produces 57 per cent of Ghana's total cocoa output.There were fraternal messages from the Cocoa Producers Alliance and the International Cocoa Organisation. The theme for the Day was Process and Consume more cocoa for good health and Economic Growth.