Cocoa farmers in the country have been advised not to introduce partisan politics into the operation of newly launched farmer cooperatives in the sector.
National President of Ghana Cocoa, Coffee and Shea nut Farmers Association (COCOSHE), Alhaji Alhassan Bukari, said the feet of such farmers associations have weakened in times past due to the introduction of partisan politics into their operations.
Alhaji Bukari implored his colleagues, cocoa farmers, to refrain from engaging in partisan politics, which will only derail the success of their operations.
He was speaking at the national launch of farmer cooperatives in the cocoa sector in Kumasi.
Alhaji Bukari reminds executives and members of the various cooperatives that such groups are for the collective good of all members.
He recounts some of the benefits cocoa farmers will stand to gain through the formation of the farmer cooperatives adding, when COCOBOD exits from its on-going Productivity Enhancement Programmes (PEPs) aimed at supporting farmers to increase their farm yield, cocoa farmers would have to be prepared to fund their own operational activities and that is where cooperatives will be of great importance.
“Our individual attempts at accessing loans and financial support from banks and other financial institutions have often time been greeted with some challenges which include our inability to meet collateral requirements. Farmer cooperatives will help to address this with ease.” Alhaji Bukari said.
Another major reason among others for the formation of farmers cooperatives are to enhance extension service delivery and influence change in the farmer’s perception of cocoa farming and encourage them to approach cocoa farming as a business.
Currently, a total of 1, 342 cooperatives have been identified by the cocoa health & extension division (CHED).
Out of which 512 are fully registered with the department of cooperatives.
There is a cumulative number of 146, 764 farmers, comprising of 101, 796 cooperative members and 45, 068 farmers belonging to associations yet to be registered as cooperatives.
Chief executive Officer of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahen Aidoo says, building the capacities of societies and cooperative unions for effective and efficient delivery under COCOBOD is paramount.
He adds the formation would also synchronize the activities of farmer-groups and cooperatives to align with the operational schedule of COCOBOD.
Mr Aidoo says there is the need to implement measures that will ensure the sustainability of cocoa and make it easy for the next generation to inherit an industry that is better and more attractive than the current farmers inherited.
“All stakeholders agree that it is impossible to deal with thousands of farmers on individuals basis. Therefore encouraging farmers to form co-operatives is a step in the right direction,” he stated.
According to the chief executive, COCOBOD would also assist the co-operatives to become self-sustaining in cocoa production and efficient management of the cocoa business.
“Cocobod would assist the co-operatives to develop the capacity to organize and negotiate deals with financial institutions and agro-inputs supplies for the cocoa farm business,” he adds.
COCOBOD is optimistic that various cocoa farmer associations in the cocoa regions will not only transform into self-sustaining cooperatives but also adopt best farming practices to enhance their farming operation.