The government is being urged to increase the producer price of cocoa to ensure farmers do not run into losses this year.
Some cocoa farmers who have been speaking to Joy News say they deserve more for their cocoa than the current prices being offered by the government.
“Looking at the money we invest in cocoa, the only thing that can help encourage more youth to go into farming is increasing the price because the farming is not an easy work… So government should increase it,” 35-year-old Bright Boadu, a 10 acres cocoa farm owner at Duodukrom in the Suhum Kraboa Coaltar District of the Eastern Region told Joy News’ Joseph Opoku Gakpo in an interview.
Ernest Obuba, another young farmer who owns a 12-acre cocoa farm told Joy News they are not getting adequate support from the government for their cocoa farming activities. “The support is coming but it is not satisfactory,” he explained.
The Minority in Parliament at a press conference on Wednesday criticized the government for cheating cocoa farmers and mismanaging the sector. They described as unacceptable disclosure by COCOBOD Chief Executive Joseph Boahene that cocoa prices will not be increased this crop season because of a fall in the international market price.
COCOBOD has since clarified the issue in a statement, saying a decision on pricing goes beyond the CEO and that determination can only be made by the Producer Price Review Committee which consists of representatives from both government and cocoa farmers unions.
The cocoa farmers have been reacting to the controversy over whether prices will be reviewed upwards this year. They say any decision not to increase the price of cocoa from the current 475 cedis per bag will impact negatively on their livelihoods.
“Last year, I was expecting that at least cocoa will be bought at 500 cedis or more and we couldn’t get it. We are begging the government to at least buy cocoa at the price of 500 cedis this year. At least we will be happy with that,” Ernest Obuaba explained.
The Minority in Parliament also criticized government over its decision to scrap the free fertilizer distribution programme introduced by the Mahama Administration and replace it with a subsidized scheme. Government said the move is to ensure that all farmers benefit from support meant for them as most cocoa growers were not getting access to the free fertilizer.
But cocoa farmer Bright Boadu disagrees. He insists farmers deserve fertilisers and other inputs free of charge and will not be able to pay the half price under the subsidised programme.
“We don’t get money to buy the fertilizer so we don’t use it. We only do the spraying. The subsidied one will be difficult to buy. We are expecting the government to supply us fertilizer and inputs and mass spraying,” he said.
The farmers lament promises of support over the years have not reached them. “This community, we did not get the free fertilizer here. The free mass spraying too we get it once a year instead of three. Then, it makes us lose the cocoa to diseases,” he added.
The farmers, however, say they are receiving the free improved seedlings being supplied by COCOBOD which they explain is helping them expand their cocoa farms.
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