Friday, 23 October 2009

Prez says cocoa farmers must benefit from their sweat

By Osabutey ANNY

Should the directive by President John Mills for the Ghana Cocoa Board to pay cocoa farmers realistic producer prices be carried out, then farmers in the country will see an increase in their income levels and also production quantity.

President Mills who issued the directive at the inauguration of a processing plant in Kumasi, said an increase in the producer price of cocoa will help the farmers increase not only the quantity of their produce but improve the quality as well.

He also charged COCOBOD to, without delay, supply the farmers with fertilisers so they make good use of the crop yield during harvest.

"It is time COCOBOD came out with bold and innovative measures to support the nation's hardworking farmers."

The ADM Cocoa Processing Company has a production capacity of about 30,000 tonnes per year. This is the third such facility owned by ADM and according to the President, besides the value addition to Ghana’s cocoa, the establishment of the plant will create job opportunities for most of the qualified but unemployed persons in the region.

He reiterated his government’s commitment to encourage direct foreign investments by remaining focussed while ensuring the right interventions that will aide investment flow are pursued.

Minister for Trade and Industry Hannah Tetteh also gave an indication that government will sustain investor confidence in the economy. She also said government will soon address some of the difficulties facing most companies especially those operating in the Free Zone enclaves.

While appealing to management of ADM to extend their operations to cover Soya bean processing in the northern part of Ghana, she said the country ought to sustain the production of cocoa so industries who rely on cocoa products will benefit from the needed raw materials for their production.

Ms. Tetteh said a processing plant in the Soya bean sector in northern Ghana will not only provide jobs for most of the farmers there but help improve their income and living standards to feed both their families and put their children through school.

Oheneba Adusei Poku, the Akyempimhene, represented Otumfuo Osei Tutu II. He paid tribute to management of ADM, saying the establishment of the plant has put Kumasi on the company’s map. According to him, the presence of the factory will motivate the
farmers to increase not only their yields but improve their living conditions.

He appealed to the company to assist cocoa farmers with the necessary inputs. He also appealed to government to help revive most of the potential but abandoned factories in the region as parts of efforts to help create jobs for the people.

Tony Fofie, Chief Executive of COCOBOD, also gave indication the Board will diversify the sector by promoting the processing of cocoa beans in the country for consumption and subsequent export. In this regard the board, he explained, is looking at about processing about 60 per cent of cocoa beans at the local levels.

He said the quality of cocoa production will not be compromised though they are urging increase in production volumes.

John D. Rice, Executive Vice President, Commercial and Production of ADM, was confident the company is in a good position to become the preferred global supplier of cocoa and chocolate products. He added that the company will also take advantage to source high quality cocoa beans from local farmers so as to keep them busy and increase their incomes.

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