Cocoa Farmers Association urges President Akufo-Addo to disregard allegations against COCOBOD CEO

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The Best Cocoa Farmers Association ( BeCoFA) of the Western-South Region has urged President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to ignore the unwarranted calls for the dismissal of Mr Joseph Boahene Aidoo as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD).

The Association said it deemed the CEO as a hardworking, committed, dedicated, great servant of cocoa farmers and a farmer-friendly policy driver.

The Association said Mr Boahene Aidoo had demonstrated his interest in farmers by initiating several policies that were farmer-centered, since he assumed office in 2017.

Over the last few months, the media landscape had been flooded with stories of several bodies calling for the head of the current CEO of COCOBOD.

At a press briefing at Bogoso in the Prestea Huni-Valley Municipality of the Western Region, the Chairman of the BeCoFA, Nana Kwadwo Amoako, flanked by other executive members, catalogued interventions by Mr Boahene Aidoo in the cocoa business.

He said the CEO had provided cocoa farmers with mechanised pruner-slashers, petrol and engine oil for free and recruited labourers to embark upon mass pruning of cocoa farms, supplying cooperative farmers nationwide with free pruning saws to do better jobs.

He said mass sprayers had also been engaged at the expense of the COCOBOD to support the cooperatives to prune all good cocoa farms.

Nana Amoako said Artificial Hand Pollination was another innovation introduced by Mr Boahene Aidoo explaining that before 2017, farmers depended mostly on the wind and insects to pollinate their farms which could not help them to realise their full potential in terms of yields.

However, with the Artificial Hand Pollination, some serious cocoa farmers are harvesting 40 bags per acre in Bompieso and single cocoa trees are producing more than 2,000 pods equivalent to almost one and a half bag,” an innovation which had created jobs for the youth in cocoa growing areas, he said.

Nana Amoako mentioned another unique intervention by the CEO to deal with the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease as the Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme.

He said under the leadership of the CEO, diseased trees were cut, pre-planting activities done, supply and carting of robust hybrid cocoa and plantain seedlings for free, ensuring that farmers, planted and maintained these farms for two years at no cost to them.

Nana Amoako said not only did the rehabilitation programme contribute to food security but also farmers received cheques as compensation for the destruction or cutting down of their cocoa trees.

He mentioned other initiatives as the supply of free foliar, liquid fertilizers and flowering inducers to enhance cocoa yield and for the first time ever, the Management of COCOBOD engaged sprayers in 2022 and 2023 to spray flowering inducers and liquid fertilizers free of charge for cocoa farmers with fantastic result.

Nana Amoako said the supply of insecticides to cooperatives as part of the CEO’s vision to protect each pod and increase yield of each cocoa farm has been massive.

He said since the introduction of CODAPEC or mass spraying programme in 2001, only sprayers or gangs had been issued with chemicals to spray cocoa farms.

Nana Amoako said the CEO had taken this initiative to another level by issuing cooperatives with insecticides for the control of insects with many liters of NEXIDE insecticides among others supplied to the various cooperatives across the Region.

The Introduction of the Cocoa Management System to build data base for all cocoa farmers to kickstart the decade old Cocoa Farmers Pension Scheme to cater for the welfare of farmers was lauded by the farmers as a major achievement.

The Input Credit Subsidised fertilizers policy also received attention under Mr Boahene Aidoo, where farmers in cooperatives were able to fertilize their farms, received commissions on every bag of fertilizer each cooperative paid for enabling many of them to procure their own motorised spraying machines and other implements needed for their farmwork.

He said the CEO had bridged the gap between Extension Agents and farmers, having engaged over 1,400 Community Extension Agents to visit and teach farmers.

Nana Amoako outlined some teething challenges confronting the Cocoa sector under the tenure of Mr Boahene Aidoo and the pragmatic approach to address them which gave hope to farmers.

He said steps had been taken to salvage the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Disease by launching the Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme with over 40,000 hectares of such hybrid cocoa farms established free of charge to be handed over to farmers in June this year.

COCOBOD had also taken a bold step to clamp down on illegal mining activities in cocoa growing communities with the creation of the Anti-Illegal Mining Unit at the office of the CEO working with relevant state agencies and COCOBOD’s lawyers to take perpetrators to court.

He said farmers were now climate sensitive leading to smart Agricultural practices to fight the negative effects of climate change.

Again, regarding the smuggling of dry cocoa beans to neighbouring countries, joint efforts by COCOBOD and security agencies had led to many arrests and incarceration.

“COCOBOD managed to convince the government to increase the producer price recently from the GHc1,308.00 per bag to GHc2,070.00 equivalent to US$2,509 per tonne effective April 5th 2024, for the rest of the current 2023/2024 cocoa season, although we sold our beans last year at US$2,600.00 per tonne through our forward sales mechanism”.

“It is therefore obvious that the 2024/2025 season will be a super season for all cocoa farmers considering the massive pruning currently underway, provision of adequate foliar and granular fertilizers, insecticides and fungicides among others”.

On behalf of the Best Cocoa Farmers Association, Nana Amoako reposed “the confidence in the leadership of Mr Boahene Aidoo and strongly believed that with the support of God and all cocoa farmers and the aggressive implementation of the above well-thought-out Programmes and interventions, Ghana’s our cocoa production would peak again in 2024/2025, just like the previous unprecedented tonnage of one million and forty-seven thousand (1,047,000) metric tonnes in 2020/2021.

By P.K.Yankey, GNA

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