Former President, John Agyekum Kufuor, has called on the youth to venture into cocoa farming as it is profitable and the surest way to sustain and increase cocoa production in Ghana.
Ghana produces about 800,000 tonnes of premium cocoa annually, the second highest after Cote dâ€™Ivoire. However, large numbers of ageing cocoa farmers without adequate young and dynamic people to take over, the annual production target is under threat.
â€œAccording to COCOBOD, the average age of a cocoa farmer is 51 years as at 2015, this is not good for a country with youthful population as ours,â€ Ex-President Kufuor said.
He was speaking at the maiden Green Ghana Lecture Series organized by the Kuapa Kokoo Co-operative Farmers and Marketing Union Limited in commemoration of its 25th anniversary held under the theme: â€œEmpowering and Attracting the second Generation farmers in a Ghana Beyond Aid.â€
He explained that in 2001 to 2008, his government introduced policies to sustain cocoa production including fertilizer subsidy, mass spraying exercise, and upgrade of farmersâ€™ price. He commended the incumbent government for pragmatic policies to boost cocoa production.
â€œThis combination of history and economic reputation now, as a lower and middle income country, places cocoa at the centre of the Ghanaian agricultural identity. The path that Kuapa Kokoo is charting commendableâ€ he added.
On the governmentâ€™s role, Chief of Staff, Ms. Frema Opare, affirmed governmentâ€™s commitment to ensure more value and sustainable growth of the cocoa industry.
She stated that government is aware of the challenges and difficulties in the industry and will do its best to ensure the cocoa industry re-attains its position as the number one leading producer in cocoa production.
According to her, the groundbreaking Strategic Pact signed between Ghana and Ivory Coast in March 2018 serves as a turning point in cocoa pricing.
â€œThe pact will lead to harmonization of cocoa marketing policies of both Ghana and Cote dâ€™Ivoire and will ensure equal pricing for cocoa in both the local and international markets,â€ he said.
Together with opportunities provided by the One District One Factory initiative, the cocoa sector in Ghana presents a very positive outlook, as she maintains the measures will help facilitate cocoa processing and promote local patronage of cocoa products.
Samuel Adimado, the Managing Director Kuapa Kokoo Limited, disclosed that in partnership with Millennium Promise Alliance, they are about to launch the first ever TeleAgric Centre to support their members as well as the establishment of a pension scheme.
â€œWe want to, in partnership with the Youth Employment Agency (YEA) and the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan(NEIP) introduce AgriSmart youth model farms targeting about 30,000 young people across our cocoa growing regions so we can monitor, coach, guide and empower the next-generation of cocoa farmers in Ghanaâ€.
The President of Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union, Fatima Ali, urged young women to go into farming to replace older ones retiring from farming in the country.
Already, she has designed a project called the â€œYoung Women in Cocoa Production Projectâ€ which is expected to empower young women and participate actively in agribusiness.
The management of Kuapa Kokoo Limited also awarded two former Presidents, Jerry John Rawlings and John Agyekum Kufour for their various contributions to the cocoa sector.
Current President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, was also honoured as well as the Chief of Staff, Ms. Frema Osei.
Kuapa Kokoo seeks to develop itself into a formidable farmer-based organisation capable of mobilising quality cocoa products, improving the livelihood of members and satisfying customers.