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Cocobod worries over rising crop production cost

Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod) has expressed worry over continuous rising crop production cost over the years as it worked to raise cocoa output from a previous 400,000 tonnes per annum to about 900,000 tonnes at present.
The cocoa regulator said inputs such as planting materials and chemicals have seen their costs rise, and spending on infrastructure in cocoa communities has increased.
“Our cost is rising even as we continue to sustain our production target of between 800,000 tonnes and over 900,000 tonnes annually through sustainable input supply systems like planting materials, chemicals to control pests and disease, improved infrastructure at some cocoa-growing centres, and also sustainable income for farmers.
“We must find ways of getting all these to sustain production targets,” Mr. Emmanuel Opoku, Deputy Director, Research, at Cocobod told participants at a two-day National Cocoa Stakeholders' Conference in Accra.
The country opened the 2013/14 crop season on October 18 with an initial target of buying around 8300 tonnes.
Ghana runs a two-cycle cocoa season consisting of the October-June main crop harvest which is mainly exported, and the July-September light crop that is discounted to local grinders.
The country produced 835,410 tonnes of cocoa during the 2012/13 crop year, down 5 percent from the previous season, cumulative provisional data showed.
An unprecedented one million tonnes of cocoa was produced during the 2010/2011 crop-year, thanks to good weather and improved farming techniques -- but production declined to about 8500 tonnes in the 2011/2012 season.
Cocobod said cocoa production tends to fall slightly after a bumper year.
The conference, which brought together private sector operators, government officials, donor partners, civil society organisations, chiefs as well as cocoa , farmers, was aimed at deepening engagement with the private sector and civil society to ensure a sustainable cocoa industry.
Ghana Cocoa Platform, the promoter of the conference, is an initiative established toward achieving a sustainable cocoa industry through enhanced partnership and cooperation among stakeholders. It is a partnership between Ghana Cocobod and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Mr. Ashante Poku, Deputy Chief Executive, Cocobod, said: “The value chain of the country's cocoa industry, right from the smallholder farmer in the hinterland through difficult roads to the final consumer, presents us with both challenge? and opportunities as we seek to ensure sustainability”.
He said cocoa farmers are key players in the cocoa value chain and yet they appear to be the most vulnerable link in the chain. “As regulators of the industry, we have a duty to try to address the challenges and explore opportunities available to the cocoa farmers to ensure that they become a strong link in the entire value chain.
“The critical issues that need to be considered in the cocoa supply chain are sustainable use of our environment, improvement in livelihoods of cocoa communities and farmer incentive structures.
“We can only achieve this feat through effective dialoguing with all stakeholders related to the industry. The Ghana Cocoa Platform will serve as the main forum to build consensus on all the issues in the cocoa industry.”
Mrs. Rita Owu.su- Amankwah, National Coordinator of the Ghana Cocoa Platform, said Cocobod is expected to show commitment by creating the necessary mechanisms to implement the joint decisions.
“It is when stakeholders commit themselves to their respective roles that the cocoa sector will thrive for the benefit of present and future generations,” she said.
Mr. Harrie Hendrickz, Regional Manager West Africa of Solidaridad, said the quest to achieve a sustainable cocoa sector is an ongoing effort. “Over the last decade, several efforts and viewpoints have been expressed about the way the cocoa sector should be developed and managed.
“The private sector has largely been driven by commercial and corporate social responsibility interests, whereas the civil society organisations have tended to focus on the socio-economic welfare of the cocoa farmers and their communities.”

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