Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Ghana's cocoa farmers still waiting for pesticides

Ghana's cocoa farmers are still waiting for pesticides from the government after recent rains have made the crop more susceptible to disease.

Noah Amenyah of the Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod) told reporters in Accra that farmers should receive chemicals and fertilisers within two weeks. He was responding to complaints by farmers in the country's western region that deliveries were up to three weeks late. If the chemicals are not received soon, farmers risk losing the light crop to diseases, a spokesperson said.

According to Cocobod projections, Ghana will produce 900,000 metric tonnes of beans for the 12 months ending 30 September, the highest in three years. Even so, global supply is lagging behind demand, in part due to increased demand from the new middle classes in India, China and Russia, sending prices 13% higher this year to more than US$3,000 per tonne.

Cocoa farmers, especially in Ghana and neighbouring Côte d'Ivoire, have to deal with ageing plantations that are often vulnerable to pests and disease. Smallholders for the most part cannot afford modern equipment or fertilisers, and there is a knowledge gap when it comes to good agricultural practice.

As part of its own efforts to boost the cocoa crop, Ghana pledged to distribute free fertiliser to farmers this year in a jointly funded programme between the government and Cocobod. Under the new scheme, which replaces fertiliser subsidies, US$200 million worth of farming inputs, mainly in the form of chemicals and fertilisers, will be given out to farmers.

Further measures to rejuvenate the country's cocoa sector are already in motion, thanks to an agreement between the government and 12 major global cocoa and chocolate companies.

For more news and expert analysis about Ghana, please see Ghana Politics & Security.

© 2014 Menas Associate

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