The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has indicated government will increase the distribution of hybrid cocoa seedlings to farmers across the country next year.

COCOCBOD made available 50million free cocoa seedlings to farmers in the current crop season. This is in addition to free fertilizer distribution to the cocoa farmers.

Deputy Chief Executive, Dr. Francis Kofi Oppong, has however acknowledged the seedlings were not enough to reach all farmers.

“COCOBOD will continue with its support to cocoa farmers,” he said. “In the coming year, we hope to distribute more than 50million because it did not reach all farmers; we will decide whether to give out 60-70million seedlings”.

Smuggling of cocoa beans, the impact of climate change on production and illegal mining activities on cocoa farms are major challenges to higher cocoa productivity in Ghana.

But COCOBOD is also worried at the ageing population of cocoa farmers.

Increasing access to the hybrid cocoa pods, which can be harvested between 2-3 years, has been identified as a means to attract the youth to venture the sector.

Meanwhile, Dr. Oppong has enjoined farmers to resist any attempt by cocoa health and extension officers to take away their voters identity cards in a bid to register them to access cocoa seedlings and fertilizers.

“All therein is to register with the extension officer, who will take a measurement of the farm to ascertain the number of cocoa seeds needed,” he stated. “Don’t give out your voter’s ID to the officer, and report such person because that is not the instruction for the seed distribution. The officer only needs a means to prove that you are a farmer, so it is enough just to show your ID that you are a farmer, it should not be taken away”.

Dr. Oppong spoke at the 21st Annual Delegates Conference of the Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union in Kumasi.