Government is reneging on its responsibility to cocoa farmers despite the large profit it is making out of the industry. That’s according to some cocoa farmers in the Ashanti Region who believe the collapse of programmes such as the free mass cocoa spraying exercise is reducing productivity on the farm.
For Joy news’ series on challenges facing the agricultural sector, Joseph Opoku Gakpo visited the Atwima Nwabiagya District to meet some cocoa farmers who expressed anger over government’s failed promises.
They complain promised free fertilizers have not been delivered, nor has the promise to spray pesticide on their farms free of charge under the Cocoa Disease Control Programme.
“2013, our farms were not sprayed, 2014 too, they have not”, one of them told Gakpo. Inadequate numbers of agric extension officers to educate them on good agric practices, poor prices for cocoa, cheating by cocoa purchasing clerks, and non provision of free improved cocoa seedlings, are some of the other challenges the farmers complain off.
“When you go to the world market, cocoa price is about 1000 cedis, and government is paying us 200 cedis. Which is a cheat,” a young farmer told Joy news.
They also complained about delays in payment for bought cocoa by Cocoa Purchasing Companies, and the non-payment of bonuses for several years.
This is despite the fact that farmers in Ghana earn only about 70 percent of the more than 1.5 billion dollars government makes annually on the sale of the cocoa they produce. These freebies are meant to cushion and compensate them for their loss. But that is not coming. The effect is reduced productivity on the farm.
A farmer said: “This year, I harvested only four bags of cocoa because I did not have fertilizer”. The farmers want government to fix these challenges if it is serious about sustaining the sector, or they will abandon the farms.
They also complained about lack of basic amenities such as health facilities and good road infrastructure.
“We in the small town, our roads are bad. We don’t even have hospitals. I heard of Cocoa Hospital, and it is built in Accra. Meanwhile, there is no cocoa in Accra”, one of them told Joy news.
Meanwhile, Joy news has learnt COCOBOD has set up a committee to look into the numerous complains about the failure of government support schemes. The committee, set up last week is expected to submit its report by close of month for action.