The flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has promised to resume and scale up the free Hybrid Seedlings Programme to over 100 million hybrid cocoa seedlings a year.

John Mahama said the next NDC government will ensure that cocoa prices will be increased annually to attract the youth to cocoa farming.

Presenting the party’s manifesto reading held on Monday, the former President said the NDC will in the next government, will continue to support and encourage the youth to consider farming as a lucrative farming business by establishing the Youth in Cocoa Farming Programme.

He also stated another Cocoa College will be established in the Western North Region for training cocoa farmers and extension officers in the Western, Western North, Bono, Ahafo and the western part of the Ashanti region to give enough room for the Bunso Cocoa College to take care of cocoa farmers in Eastern, Central, Volta and the remaining parts of the Ashanti region.

According to him when voted into office, he seeks to empower women by supporting them, enabling them access to extension services and agro-input and instituting an award scheme to honour women in cocoa farming.

Mr Mahama in his manifesto assured farmers of free primary healthcare for cocoa farmers when voted into power.

 “The next NDC government will exempt all cocoa farmers from NHIS premium payment for secondary and tertiary care,” he said.

He added that a biometric database will be created to enable cocoa farmers and their dependents access free healthcare at cocoa clinics, which he again promised that when voted in power, he will ensure COCOBOD builds well-equipped hospitals in each of the cocoa-growing regions.

The next NDC government in improving the agricultural sector will among other things, construct irrigation dams, increase poultry and beef production to meet both domestic demands and export, complete the construction and operationalisation of the Fisheries college at Anomabu and restructure rural credit and the Eximbank to improve credit to strategic agriculture and agribusiness activities.