The absence of transparency in fertilizer distribution and low farm gate prices hampered the effort of cocoa farmers in Ghana to plant more, a World Bank report has revealed.
According to the report which is yet-to-be made public, the prices paid farmers for their produce rob them of a good return on their land, labour and capital.
It also revealed COCOBOD – the body in charge of the sale of cocoa – has been unable to guarantee farmers stable prices because it is more interested in getting a better export revenue margin for government.
The World Bank report sighted by Joy News was emphatic the country’s cocoa production is not witnessing the needed boost because of issues of corruption and mismanagement.
The report by the Bretton Wood institution comes at a time the former COCOBOD Chief Executive Officer, Dr Stephen Opuni is being investigated by the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) for some fraudulent transactions.
Assets of Dr Opuni have reportedly been frozen pending conclusion on the investigations.
He is alleged to have given government’s free fertiliser to only cronies of the previous National Democratic Congress (NDC) government leaving out farmers who are not aligned to the party.
Chairman of the Western Regional Cocoa Farmers Association, Nana Johnson Mensah told Joy News the yield of some farmers suffered in 2016 because they were not given the fertilisers.
To ensure all the farmers get their share of the fertilisers, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has directed them to pay 50 percent of the fertilisers price for government to absorb the rest.
Nana Mensah lauded the shift in fertiliser distribution policy of the new government, saying “every farmer will now have access to fertilisers.”
The government has also set the target of raising cocoa production levels to at least 1 million tonnes and to process more than 50 percent of cocoa beans in the country.
It hope to achieve this by exploring new markets and improving the cocoa value chain. But these might be hampered if government does not address the issues of corruption, mismanagement and underpayment of farmers identified as major challenges in the sector.
The World Bank report has recommended a conscious institutional arrangement which will help to improve cocoa yield in the country.