Some cocoa farmers in the Western North Region are worried about the increasing cost of farm inputs and chemicals. This, according to them, will render the historic farm gate price of cocoa government announced not as beneficial as intended.
This came to light when Civic Response visited communities in the region in September 2023.
In September 2023, the government of Ghana announced a 63% hike in the cocoa producer price from the previous GH₵12,800.00 per tonne to GH₵20,943.00 per tonne. This translates into GH₵1,308.00 per bag or its equivalent of 64kg for the 2023/2024 cocoa season.
According to the farmers, even though the price difference between the new farmgate price and that of the previous season (GH₵508.00) is historic, they do not anticipate feeling the actual impact due to the high cost of investment required in cocoa farming.
The farmers are also worried because there are not enough cocoa beans in the system as a result of diseased cocoa and the lack of funds to properly manage and maintain their cocoa farms.
Statistics have shown that, except for the 2020/2021 season that recorded 1,047,000 tons of cocoa, Ghana has experienced a drastic reduction in cocoa yields for almost a decade now.
Cocoa farmers in the Western North Region are therefore appealing to the government through its COCOBOD to do more considering the cost of investment, prices of other commodities and the general cost of living among other factors.
The farmers are calling on government to make farm inputs available to farmers directly and at the required quantity and time. They are also asking government to publish a list of approved agrochemicals for each cocoa season. Although government supplies agrochemicals- fertilizers, insecticide and fungicide- to the farmers free of charge, they are woefully inadequate. Farmers had to resort to buying other agrochemicals on the open market to supplement what they received from government. This sometimes results in the farmers buying agrochemicals that end up being harmful to the farms. They believe government publishing the approved chemicals will prevent this situation.
The cocoa farmers are also appealing to the government to urgently address the challenge of the wrongful adjustment of weighing scales by purchasing clerks and their district managers. This situation, they say, leads to cocoa farmers being cheated of what they are rightfully due.
They further expressed worry over the aging population of Ghana’s cocoa industry particularly, the labour force. This, they say, requires urgent intervention by government to make farming attractive to the youth of today. According to them, even though increasing the farmgate price for the commodity is a step in the right direction, more needs to be done.
The farmers, however, commended government for announcing the new prices a month earlier than the norm as they have also called for. This will avert the situation where they are compelled to sell their cocoa beans to buyers at the same price as the previous cocoa season.
By: Belinda Boator│Civic Response