Solidaridad, an international Civil society, is partnering the Ghana COCOBOD to introduce farm service support to cocoa farmers in a bid to boost output of the sector now facing challenges of pests and diseases.
Operating under the Cocoa Rehabilitation and Intensification Project [CORIP II] through the Cocoa Health and Extension Division [CHED] of COCOBOD, and various Rural Service Centres [RSCs] established by Solidaridad in hard- to-reach cocoa areas in the Ahafo, Western North, and Central regions, the Civil society is expected to leverage private sector investments by matching public funds from commercial banks and impact investment in cocoa rehabilitation and intensification.
The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Accra, through Solidaridad, is funding CORIP II in Ghana, and three other West African countries, namely, Côte d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Mr Hammond Mensah, Programmes Manager, Solidaridad, who led a team of journalists to tour some RSCs and demonstration farms in Goaso, Sefwi Wiaso Dunkwa on-Offin, in the Ahafo, Western North and Central regions respectively, explained that the CORIP II programme, which spanned from 2017 to 2021, had four components, namely, policy plans, the access to finance, women and youth in farming, and the Resilient Cocoa production component.
Interacting with officials of COCOBOD’s CHED at Goaso, Sefwi Wiaso and Dunkwa, Mr Mensah, said the Resilient Cocoa production programme, also promoted climate smart cocoa production and all its associated activities, of which entrepreneurs were being supported by Solidaridad, to develop service providing companies within the cocoa land scape, adding that there were six of such service centres in the Western North Region alone.
The RSCs, he said, were established as a private-sector-driven vehicle to deliver production and marketing services for smallholder cocoa farmers.
The RSCs, also serve as a one-stop-shop that delivers services, such as improved planting material, agrochemicals, fertilizer, and crop protection, as well as extension and financial services.
“We train the service providers so that they can provide services to the farmers and help increase their yields.”
Mr Mensah said the Service providers had been positioned in a way that they could effectively participate and support the recently launched National Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme, which President Akufo-Addo launched in Sefwi Wiaso a fortnight ago, also geared towards saving the cocoa sector from the swollen shoot disease.
He argued that farmers could not relay entirely on central government to transform the cocoa sector, saying, “We need private capital to pour in to support government’s efforts. And that is precisely, what we aim to do with the service providers within the landscape so they become effective vehicles for attractive private capital for investment into the cocoa sector.”
He explained the interactions with officials of CHED was also to enable Solidaridad, look for business from COCOBOD for the trained service providers so they could work effectively, and deliver services.
The journalists were taken to some COCOBOD model farms and RSCs in Diaso in Upper Denkyira West Municipality, Nsuansua in Sefwi Wiaso Municipal, Dunkwa in the Upper Denkyira East, Mim in the Asunafo North Municipal, among other areas to see at first hand, how the CORIP programme was impacting on the lives of cocoa communities.
Mr Samuel Addae-Boadu, Progamme Officer, Solidaridad, said CORIP II was also expected to speed and scale up within the cocoa supply chain, the creation of SMEs to deliver market-based intensification and rehabilitation services to farmers in the targeted countries.
He said in Ghana alone, 70,000 cocoa farmers were expected to be trained on best cocoa practices, including cutting down diseased cocoa trees, weeding and planting other crops like plantain and cocoyam to rejuvenate the land for about a year, and then planting cocoa seedlings.
The farmers are given compensations for their cut trees, while the chiefs and other landowners were also compensated to relief them of the loss of their cocoa for sometime.
He said all those arrangements were worked out though the RSC providers and CHED.
Mr Isaac Adu, Deputy Regional Manager, Cocoa Health Extension Division, Western North Region, commended Solidaridad for its strategic partnership with the government, which would help the region to regain its Cocoa strength once more.
He said the region, which used to produce one third of Ghana’s cocoa, was now experiencing decline in production, and expressed the hope that the CORIP intervention, together with the National Cocoa Rehabilitation and Intensification programme, would save the sector for Ghana.
Mr Kwaku Oppong, a 54 year old farmer, Ms Leticia Adu Yankey, Madam Faustina Sarpong, all cocoa farmers, whose farms had been chosen as demonstration farms, all expressed their gratitude to Solidaridad for intervening in their seemingly hopelessness.