Dr George Opoku, the Deputy Director of the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), has said that the country is recording huge annual deficits in the export of coffee.
He has, therefore, advised farmers to engage in coffee production in commercial quantities so that they could enhance their livelihood and earn more foreign exchange for the country as well.
Dr Opoku gave the advice when he inaugurated the Dormaa Area Coffee Farmers Association at Dormaa-Ahenrko in the Brong-Ahafo Region on Wednesday.
He explained that because of the high demand for coffee, especially in the international market, the government was investing huge amounts of human and financial resources into the industry, in addition to motivating farmers to increase production.
Dr Opoku commended the coffee farmers for coming together and assured them that Cocoa Board would continue to provide them with farm inputs and facilitate their access to financial assistance to enable them to expand their economic activities.
On behalf of the Ghana Cocoa Board, the Deputy Director presented free farm inputs comprising 436 bags of fertilizers, an unspecified number of cutlasses and wellington boots to the more than 150 coffee farmers, drawn from Twapease, Sromani, Asunsu, Atesikrom and Antwirifi in the Dormaa Municipality.
Mr. Michael Owusu Manu, Senior Research Manager of the Ghana Cocoa Board explained that the coffee sector had grown significantly since the Board started implementing the Coffee Revamp Project in 2011.
He said under the four-year project being funded by the government at the cost of GHC4.2 Million, more than 2,500 hectares of coffee farms had been established in the country.
Mr. Manu said the project supported registered coffee farmers with farm and other agricultural inputs like seeds free of charge, and also assisted them to maintain their farms.
He advised cocoa farmers, especially those whose farms were not yielding enough, to engage in coffee production to get additional income.
Mr. Daniel Afriyie Gyebi, the Dormaa District Cocoa Officer, said a bag of coffee currently sold at GHC200 and therefore entreated the unemployed youth in the area to go into cofee production.
Mr. Kissinger Agyemang, the Chairman of the Association thanked the government for supporting the members and gave the assurance that the farmers would also work hard to increase production.