About 13,000 young persons, between the ages of 18 and 40, have gone into cocoa farming in the Central, Ashanti, Eastern and Western regions, raising optimism among industry stakeholders that cocoa farming will not remain the preserve of the aged.
The situation, therefore, brightens the long-term prospects of the industry in the country, given that national cocoa output risked dwindling as farmers grew older.
Consequently, the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has pledged its full support for youth farmers with technical advice and inputs aimed at ensuring that they are properly motivated to stay in the venture.
“Once you get the youth attracted into cocoa farming, then it becomes very heartwarming because it means you have people who can carry the industry forward,” the Public Affairs Manager of the COCOBOD, Mr Noah Amenyah, told the media.
COCOBOD admits that the industry is dominated by aged farmers, most of whose children shy away from the venture due to the general negative perception about agriculture among the youth in the country.
Majority of the cocoa farmers are also uneducated, making it difficult for them to quickly abandon traditional and conventional farming methods for modern technique that could increase output of the crop.
“The youth of today are more educated and because of that they will understand the principles of good agricultural practices, they will be bold enough to invest in the farms and all that will reflect in the output,” Amenyah said.
He explained that COCOBOD, which regulates the cocoa industry, had already grouped the young farmers into associations in the various farming communities to enable it to easily reach out to them by way of support.
“When the free fertiliser and mass spraying was done, we ensured that they were well catered for. We have also introduced awards targeted at them and all these
are aimed at motivating those in the business to stay and increase yield as well as get more of them to join,” he added.