The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has observed that the success of its Youth-in-Cocoa Farming Programme will depend on the availability of land to young persons in cocoa-growing communities.
As a result, it has called on traditional authorities and land owners to make lands available for the youth to help motivate them to venture into cocoa farming as a business and not just for survival.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of COCOBOD, Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, made this call when he addressed some chiefs and traditional rulers at a workshop organised by the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) in Accra. The workshop was on land tenure and property rights.
COCOBOD, as part of efforts to increase cocoa production, has encouraged and provided incentives to the youth to enter into cocoa farming. Despite having access to free seedlings and subsidised fertiliser, access to land is still a challenge for many of the youth who plan to enter the business.
The CEO, therefore, seized the opportunity to plead with the authorities to make lands available to the youth.
On some other interventions from the board to increase cocoa output, Mr Aidoo said it was currently transferring the technique of pollination to farmers, and that involved the training of mainly young cocoa farmers as hand pollinators in order to undertake their own pollination, as well set up enterprises to pollinate other farms.
He said it was also about to introduce motorised hand-held slashers to replace the traditional machetes and motorised hand-held pruners for pruning cocoa trees and removing mistletoes.
He said this would be done through a public-private partnership.
Mr Aidoo also added that in view of climate change and the associated harsh weather conditions, COCOBOD was promoting irrigation among cocoa farmers.
That, he said, had the potential to not only increase productivity and ensure high survival of transplanted seedlings but also guarantee a year-round big beans size for Ghana’s cocoa.
“COCOBOD has also reformed the Mass Cocoa Spraying (CODAPEC) to involve the private sector and farmer ownership in order to get farmers to invest in their own resources in their future production activities,” he said.
“We also intend to improve upon agronomic practices to enable the farmers to increase productivity and yield in order to retain the land gotten under the customary land tenure system using the sharecropping arrangement,” he added.
Cocoa rehabilitation programme
With support from the government, Mr Aidoo said, COCOBOD had initiated the Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme which involved the cutting down and replanting of diseased or over-aged trees.
This is in light of an estimated 40 per cent of the country’s current cocoa tree stock being classified as either over-aged or in moribund condition or affected by the cocoa swollen shoot virus disease.
He said in the past, the cocoa farmers were provided with free seedlings to cut and replant, which however did not take into consideration the economies of the farmers who had to wait three years for the replanted trees to come to fruition and also the land tenure implications of the programme.
He said the board, in collaboration with the government had, therefore, decided to compensate farmers and land owners whose farms were over-aged or had been attacked by the swollen shoot virus.