Monthly Archives: November 2020

Operation 60 Pods Initiative: Why OmniFert is supporting cocoa farmers improve yield

According to Ghana’s Cocoa Regulator, COCOBOD, 83 per cent of all cocoa tree stock in the Nankese District of the Eastern Region have been infected by the swollen shoot virus disease (CSSVD).

This, according to the experts, coupled with unsanitary farming practices may not only have drastic implications for the future of the once vibrant cocoa district but could also seriously affect families and completely extinct Cocoa in the district.

This year sees the launch of ‘Operation 60 Pods’ an initiative to engage Cocoa farmers in the Nankese District to make a difference to protect the future of their children.

Operation 60 pods per cocoa tree will focus on the positive contributions farmers can make to create sustainable farm practices.

The Operation 60 Pods and Treat Your Disease Farm Now will ensure that farmers give out their disease farms to be treated, and afterwards commit to good agronomic like timely weeding and effective pruning.

Already, the initiative is projecting that at least every farmer should be able to have 60 pods of cocoa on every single tree and thus should be able to realise twelve bags of Cocoa with just 400 trees per acre.

An acre of a well lined and pegged farm contains about 435 cocoa trees, 60 pods on a tree could sum up to a total of 26,100 pods.

Read also How young Entrepreneurs can tap into the USD100 billion Cocoa Sector

A farmer may need 1,500 pods to produce a bag of 64 kilogramme of Cocoa. Therefore, an estimated 26,100 pods will produce 17.4 bags which in turn translates into a whopping GHc 11,484 at the current farmgate price of GHc660 per bag.

“Every cocoa tree has the capacity of producing 240 pods, so we are going the very minimal way, that if a farmer should use prompt weeding and effective pruning without fertilizer application, without pollination, the farmer is able to make the minimum 60 and hence 12 bags should he have 400 trees”, District Cocoa Officer, Abednego Asante noted.

The Nankese District currently has 15,000 estimated Cocoa farmers with an average farmer land-holding size of 0.75 hectare which Mr Asante says is far above an acre, with 400 trees.

Read also Untapped opportunities in the Cocoa Supply Chain; The case of Ghana

He, however, knows that the challenges with getting farmers to agree to cut down all their trees and to be replaced with a disease-tolerant variety will be enormous as most farms belong to families who sometimes have used their farms to secure loans.

“One of the challenges we have is that, here, the farm will be infested with this virus but yet you see some number of pods on the farm, hence the farmer feels reluctant to release it”, he stressed.

To address this challenge, the sector regulator, Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) will pay a compensation of a GHS1,000.00 per hectare and plant plantain suckers to help raise the seedlings along with labour and help farmers to maintain the farm for two years before handing it over.

“Averagely 18 months, the hybrid we are having should start fruiting, and even in our district, we have 15 months treated farm which has started fruiting. So we are saying that the district is down but not out.

“If the farmers will buy into our campaign and release their farms to be treated and replaced, so “Operation Treat Your Farm Now” is to restore hope.

Read also Olam showcases DeZaan Ghana single origin cocoa powder at Fi Europe Connect

“Because we know that if every family has a cocoa farm, the family has hope, but the hopes will be dashed once we allow the disease to bring it down. But allowing it to be treated and replaced means we are bringing back the hope of the family”, said Mr Abednego Asante.

The “Operation 60 Pods” productivity initiative is being undertaken in partnership with OmniFert Limited, a total Agri solutions provider.

OmniFert as part of its long-standing aim of improving the lives of the Ghanaian farmer has been providing nutritional and crop protection formulations to protect the cocoa bean and increase the bean per pod and even ensure more pods per tree.

Business Development Manager for OmniFert, Mr Dominic Donkoh explained why OmniFert is supporting the project.

“We have a unique formulation for Cocoa production which is 7/32/20, it means that it has 7 per cent of nitrogen, 32 per cent of phosphorus and 20 per cent of potassium which is very unique and needed, very essential in cocoa production”, Mr Donkoh observed.

Read also Ghana COCOBOD launches ‘Operation 60 Pods and Treat your Farm’ productivity initiative

He continued, “so if we are able to provide the farmers with this unique formula and also, we have one of the best crop protection products on the market, both for fungus and insects, a combination of all these will really contribute to the farmer achieving the said target of 60 pods per tree or even more”.

OmniFert has for the past two years been visiting all cocoa growing areas and cocoa cooperatives to give technical support services and necessary inputs.

Mr Donkoh said their involvement with the program will only augment their strategy to reach more farmers and increase their yield per hectare.

Operation 60 pods per Cocoa tree when fully imbibed by farmers in Nankese will produce about 22,000 metric tonnes of Cocoa in a season, this means that Ghana could be hitting 1.5 million metric tonnes if the practice is replicated in all its 70 Cocoa districts of the country.

Ghana COCOBOD launches ‘Operation 60 Pods and Treat your Farm’ productivity initiative

Cocoa farmers in Ghana stand to rake in some whooping Gh¢11,484 from every acre of farm if every tree on their farm is supported to produce at least 60 mature pods.

An acre of a well lined and pegged farm contains about 435 cocoa trees and if each tree produces 60 pods, a total of 26,100 pods is expected to be harvested by the farmer.

On the average, dry cocoa beans from about 1,500 mature pods make up a bag of 64kg of cocoa.

This implies that by dividing the estimated 26,100 pods by a projected 1,500 pods means that 17.4 bags of cocoa will be achieved by the farmer.

Furthermore, 17.4bags at the current GHc660 price per bag of cocoa, will translate into a total of Gh¢11,484.

This arithmetic analysis formed the basis of a 35-minute address delivered by the Executive Director of the Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) Dr. Emmanuel Nii Tackie Otoo at the launch of ‘Operation 60 pods and Treat your Farm’, a productivity initiative rolled out by the Nankese Cocoa District of the Eastern Region to improve cocoa production in the district.

Addressing the over 1,500 members of various farmer cooperatives who had converged at Nankese for the launch, Dr. Nii Tackie Otoo lauded the Operation 60 pods initiative and called on cocoa farmers to use the knowledge acquired from various Farmer Business School Programmes to enhance their perceptions about cocoa farming and also adopt more entrepreneurial strategies.

Operation 60 pods initiative

Citing the Mass Pruning and Hand Pollination recently introduced by COCOBOD as examples of flagship programmes of COCOBOD, he said farmers who hired extra hands (professional pruners and pollinators) to prune and pollinate their farms have experienced significant increase in yields.

Read also How young Entrepreneurs can tap into the USD100 billion Cocoa Sector

He further stated that COCOBOD would engage more pollinators and equip them with relevant logistics to enable them pollinate more selected farms as the programme scales up.

He encouraged farmers to augment the efforts of COCOBOD by ploughing back portions of gains and revenues arising from the new producer price of GHc660 for the 2020/21 crop year into their operations to maintain their farms and improve yields.

Dr. Nii Tackie used the opportunity to explain the incentive package associated with the National Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme and called for massive support from farmers.

He indicated that both the farm owner and land owner will each get GHc1,000.00 for every hectare of farm cut out and treated in addition to other free maintenance package and agronomic support services from COCOBOD.

He encouraged the farmers to cooperate with the CSSVD treatment team when the programme commences in the district in their own interest.

Touching on the on-going Cocoa Management System and the great opportunities it provides for farmers, the CHED boss implored farmers to avail themselves when the exercise commences in their Region.

Read also Untapped opportunities in the Cocoa Supply Chain; The case of Ghana

He particularly indicated that scale adjustment and other forms of cheating which occur during farmers’ dealings with purchasing clerks and other actors in the value chain will be wiped off completely to protect farmers’ income.

Dr. Nii Tackie encouraged the cooperatives to ensure transparency and honesty and assured them of Management’s support to enhance their farm operations and livelihoods.

On his part, the Nankese District Cocoa Officer, Mr Abednego Asante bemoaned the high apathy of farmers in the district and expressed optimism that the initiative would engender and whip up their interest to take up their farming activities with much seriousness.

He outlined series of planned engagements as part of a broader action plan to make the programme a success.

Mr. Benjamin Larweh, Principal Officer of the Public Affairs Department, COCOBOD, educated the farmers on the health and nutritional benefits of consuming unsweetened cocoa and charged them to encourage their children to also consume cocoa in all its processed forms for cognitive development and academic excellence.

Untapped opportunities in the Cocoa Supply Chain; The case of Ghana

At this year’s Ghana Cocoa Awards event, the CEO of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, revealed that the cocoa supply chain is worth more than US$100 billion.

Despite Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire cumulatively accounting for over 60% of global cocoa bean production, Joseph Boahen Aidoo says both countries together earn less than 5% out of the US$100 billion. This is due to the lack of enough value added to the cocoa bean.

“The actual worth of cocoa is found in the secondary and tertiary levels of the product within the value chain,” he said.

“When cocoa is processed, then value is added, that is where the money is,” he further said.

He envisions the day where the streets in Accra will be blocked on Chocolate Day for young entrepreneurs to showcase their skills in cocoa value addition, and young graduates transform the cocoa bean into valuable products and sold to restaurant chains and hotels.

Read also How young Entrepreneurs can tap into the USD100 billion Cocoa Sector

He throws the challenge to young and aspiring entrepreneurs to take advantage of opportunities cocoa offers, to grab their piece of the almost US100billion worth of the global cocoa value chain

To name three, Decorkraft, fairafric, and Ohene Cocoa are some pacesetters in cocoa value chain businesses. Having successfully braved the odds, these businesses add value to cocoa by processing to sell to the local and international markets.

Opportunities in Cocoa – African and Asia Markets
According to Joseph Boahen Aidoo, Europe and America are currently not a lucrative market for cocoa. They are consuming less chocolate not because of cocoa, but because of the sugar content.

This is as a result of the aging population in those regions. The current median age of the population in Europe is 43 and that of the UK is 40.

Asia, particularly China, on the other hand, provides a suitable target market for value added cocoa products. There are “over 700 million people in China who are moving into the middle class” and their lifestyle changes are causing the demand for chocolate to rise.

Besides, China has a median age of 32 years. Joseph Boahen also recommends India as a favourable target market for young entrepreneurs who may enter Ghana’s cocoa industry.

Africa, however, holds the greatest potential for markets in value added cocoa products. An opportunity that must not be overlooked by upcoming and young entrepreneurs.

“In 15-20 years time, the centre for cocoa consumption will be Africa.” Africa has a population of 1.3 billion with the median age of Africa being 19. This, therefore, calls on the need to promote the consumption of chocolate and cocoa more than anywhere else on the globe”. said Joseph Boahen.

Read also Cote d’Ivoire joins Ghana in threat to pull out of cocoa sustainability programmes

Opportunities in cocoa – Boost in cocoa production
Several measures have been implemented to ensure Ghana’s Cocoa is boosted on the world stage. Joseph Boahen is confident that Ghana can produce 2 million metric tonnes of cocoa yearly within the next 3 to 4 years.

Through “vertical productivity” farmers can now produce lots of cocoa on a small piece of land.

“One acre of land can get you 40 bags,” he said.

The country has registered a tree “having over 2000 pods” of cocoa. Motorized machines and pruners are being introduced to replace the traditional forms of farming such as the use of machete and hoes.

How young Entrepreneurs can tap into the USD100 billion Cocoa Sector

Ghana is the world’s second-largest cocoa-producing country with Nigeria being the biggest consumer of Ghana’s chocolate according to Yofi Grant, CEO of Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC).

Cote d’Ivoire claims the number one spot as the world’s largest producer of cocoa.

The crop was first introduced into Ghana by Tetteh Quarshie in 1870 and according to Yofi Grant, “between 1890 and 1911 the crop developed into a major export commodity” in the country.

Thereafter, there are numerous opportunities that cocoa offers to the Ghanaian citizenry, especially in business.

The importance of cocoa to Ghana’s economy cannot be downplayed. Cocoa contributes about 30% of total export earnings and about 3.7% to agricultural GPD in the country.

Cocoa directly employs some 1 million people that is, those involved in its primary activities such as planting and harvesting of cocoa beans. This is according to figures from Ghana Investment Promotion Council (GIPC).

For decades, proceeds from cocoa have funded education in Ghana, and the industry is a source of income to a majority of the rural population.

In Ghana, however, there remains massive untapped opportunities in cocoa, which young entrepreneurs can pursue.

Speaking at this year’s Ghana Cocoa Awards held at the Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City, Yofi Grant, CEO of GIPC said Ghana together with Cote d’Ivoire account for over 60% of global cocoa bean production.

In the 2017 and 2018 crop year, Ghana produced over 1 million metric tonnes of cocoa which represented a near increase of 62% of the crop year figure of about 632,037 metric tonnes.

Despite the huge tons of cocoa that is produced in the county, Yofi Grant expressed his dismay at the country’s ability to only export a total of US$13.4 million worth of chocolate and other cocoa related products to the world.

“This tells us that there is something, there is some anomaly somewhere that we haven’t in the past taken into consideration,” Yoofi Grant said.

Read also Ghana: GEPA assures incentive packages for investors in sugar products

Mr Grant further added “Tossing these bits of data in my head tells me there’s a certain unique opportunity that we haven’t as yet exploited.”

Mr Yofi Grant also expressed his dissatisfaction with Ghana holding its world ranking as the second-largest producer of cocoa bean given its 12th ranking in the global export of cocoa powder in 2019.

As of 2018, Ghana has an untapped supply potential of cocoa paste at US$372 million and that of cocoa bean at US$2.1 billion.

“These numbers tell us we are sitting on a product that despite being the mainstay of the economy has a huge and immense potential which we haven’t as yet actualized,” Yofi Grant said.

According to Yofi Grant, “Moreover, given the largest single cocoa farm of not larger than 120 acres and the average farm size of some 3 acres the industry has a lot of players but its potential remains not fully tapped.”

Ghana’s Cocoa industry holds massive opportunities for entrepreneurs looking to brave the storms, and make a difference in this promising industry.

Untapped opportunities in The Cocoa Supply Chain
At the same event, the CEO of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, revealed that the cocoa supply chain is worth more than US$100 billion.

Despite Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire cumulatively accounting for over 60% of global cocoa bean production, Joseph Boahen Aidoo says both countries together earn less than 5% out of the US$100 billion. This is due to the lack of enough value added to the cocoa bean.

“The actual worth of cocoa is found in the secondary and tertiary levels of the product within the value chain, When cocoa is processed, then value is added, that is where the money is,” he said.

He envisions the day where the streets in Accra will be blocked on Chocolate Day for young entrepreneurs to showcase their skills in cocoa value addition, and young graduates transform the cocoa bean into valuable products and sold to restaurant chains and hotels.

Read also Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organisational Development advocates inclusion of agroecology in FASDEP III

He throws the challenge to young and aspiring entrepreneurs to take advantage of opportunities cocoa offers, to grab their piece of the almost US100billion worth of the global cocoa value chain

To name three, Decorkraft, fairafric, and Ohene Cocoa are some pacesetters in cocoa value chain businesses. Having successfully braved the odds, these businesses add value to cocoa by processing to sell to the local and international markets.

Opportunities in Cocoa- African and Asia Markets
According to Joseph Boahen Aidoo, Europe and America are currently not a lucrative market for cocoa. They are consuming less chocolate not because of cocoa, but because of the sugar content.

This is as a result of the aging population in those regions. The current median age of the population in Europe is 43 and that of the UK is 40.

Asia, particularly China, on the other hand, provides a suitable target market for value added cocoa products. There are “over 700 million people in China who are moving into the middle class” and their lifestyle changes are causing the demand for chocolate to rise.

Besides, China has a median age of 32 years. Joseph Boahen also recommends India as a favourable target market for young entrepreneurs who may enter Ghana’s cocoa industry.

Africa, however, holds the greatest potential for markets in value added cocoa products. An opportunity that must not be overlooked by upcoming and young entrepreneurs.

“In 15-20 years time, the centre for cocoa consumption will be Africa.” Africa has a population of 1.3 billion with the median age of Africa being 19. This, therefore, calls on the need to promote the consumption of chocolate and cocoa more than anywhere else on the globe”. said Joseph Boahen.

Read also Olam showcases DeZaan Ghana single origin cocoa powder at Fi Europe Connect

Opportunities in cocoa – Boost in cocoa production
Several measures have been implemented to ensure Ghana’s Cocoa is boosted on the world stage. Joseph Boahen is confident that Ghana can produce 2 million metric tonnes of cocoa yearly within the next 3 to 4 years.

Through “vertical productivity” farmers can now produce lots of cocoa on a small piece of land.

“One acre of land can get you 40 bags,” he said.

The country has registered a tree “having over 2000 pods” of cocoa. Motorized machines and pruners are being introduced to replace the traditional forms of farming such as the use of machete and hoes.

Olam showcases DeZaan Ghana single origin cocoa powder at Fi Europe Connect

The global Olam Food Ingredients (OFI) business is set to unveil its deZaan D11MG – Ghana single-origin cocoa powder as it showcases its portfolio at the virtual Fi Europe Connect event, writes Neill Barston.

As the business explained to Confectionery Production, it will be using the online platform – which replaces the FiEurope physical event which has been postponed until next year amid the pandemic, to showcase its series of products across nuts, spices, dairy and coffee.

The group, which was recently formed as a distinct unit linked to Olam International, has specialised in delivering sustainable, natural, value-added food products and ingredients.

Visitors to the online event, which runs until 4 December, are able to freely navigate through interactive zones on the digital platform to access and engage with rich content on OFI’s portfolio of “on-trend” and healthy products, across categories ranging from snacks to beverages.

They can also experience AtSource, the company’s latest insights platform that provides food brands and manufacturers with visibility into their supply chains via 100+ sustainability metrics, as well as action plans to influence these elements for the better.

Read also Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organisational Development advocates inclusion of agroecology in FASDEP III

Companies can use these, together with corresponding narratives, to meet sustainability requirements, build brand trust and confidence, report on sustainability initiatives, and transform supply chains.

AtSource is a finalist in the sustainability category at this year’s Fi Europe Innovation Awards.

“Even in a virtual format, our business offerings have never been integrated in a more immersive, compelling way to provide a full flavour of what we can offer and co-create with customers to meet specific tastes and requirements,” said Briony Mathieson, Chief Marketing Officer at OFI.

CEO of OFI, A. Shekhar, added: “True partnerships can lead to extraordinary outcomes, especially when there’s a common goal, shared ethics and the desire to co-create.

“At OFI we strive for innovation across the length and breadth of our value chains. We bring unique solutions combining plant science, provenance and sustainability impact with multiple on-trend food applications, to help our customers differentiate and grow.”

Read also Ghana becomes the first African Country to implement Universal QR Code

OFI’s virtual platform OFIexperience.com is now live and will remain open until after the close of Fi Connect on 4 December, through to mid-January, with new product developments and innovation updates.

Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organisational Development advocates inclusion of agroecology in FASDEP III

The Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organisational Development (CIKOD), an NGO, is advocating for the inclusion of agroecology in the successor policy of the Food and Agricultural Sector Development Programme (FASDEP III) as part of measures to promote agroecology in Ghana.

The Centre believed promoting agroecology would not only ensure sustainable agriculture among smallholder farmers but would also help reduce the rate of climate change currently experienced in the country.

Addressing participants at a national policy workshop on agroecology in Jirapa on Thursday, Mr Benard Y. Guri, the Executive Director for CIKOD, noted that CIKOD had been collaborating with other organisations, both nationally and internationally, to promote agroecology.

Stakeholders from the agricultural sector including the academia, the state and private sector attended the two-day workshop on the theme: “Agroecology in the Current State of Climate Change and COVID-19: Challenges, Prospects and Policy Implications”.

Mr Guri said for the agroecology advocacy to be successful, they needed to get the concept into policy documents hence the need for the workshop to discuss effective ways to influence policy decisions including FASDEP III, in favour of agroecology in Ghana.

“The whole concept of agroecology, if it is not reflected in the policy, it won’t work. We will only be doing many things on the ground, but if we are to upscale to the national level, then it needs to picture in our policy,” he said.

Agroecology involved a circular system of farming that built on the strength and capacity of the soil with the use of bio-products such as compost and bio-pesticides rather than pesticides and chemical fertilizer, which destroyed the land.

Mr Guri explained that agroecology had been practiced by farmers over the years and needed to be promoted among smallholder farmers who formed about 70 per cent of the agriculture labour force.

He said conventional farming was destructive as it involved clearing tress on the field and excessive use of chemicals, which contributed to climate change and its effects.

“If we are coming up with a national policy it should reflect agroecology, go in the direction of agroecology, promote agroecology rather than industrial agriculture because if you look at the policy as it is now, it is all about industrial agriculture,” Mr Guri stated.

He observed that it was possible to produce food using agroecology where farmers were able to produce without cutting down the trees and without using the chemicals, “and that is what our policy direction should be looking at”.

Dr Sylvester Ayambila, a Consultant to the FASDEP III, noted that the new policy was in line with international policies such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the ECOWAS Agricultural Policy which sought to promote sustainable agriculture.

Sharing highlights of the FASDEP III, he explained that FASDEP II, which was introduced in 2008 would end this year, hence the need for the government to introduce a new policy that built on the FASDEP II.

He noted that the FASDEP III sought to promote climate resilience and sustainable agriculture which would incorporate agroecology, but that policy implementation in Ghana was a challenge and that could affect the implementation of the FASDEP III.

Dr Ayambila, also a Senior Lecturer at UDS, Tamale, said in order to effectively implement the FASDEP, there was the need for stakeholders in the country to dictate to investors in the agricultural sector to implement programmes and projects in accordance with the policy.

Other presentations focused on Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration, the state of agroecology in Ghana and Eco-Agriculture in the Sahel Evaluation Report among others.

Ghana becomes the first African Country to implement Universal QR Code

The Vice President of Ghana, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, has unveiled the practical use of the Quick Response (QR) code payment system at a popular waakye food joint named ‘Aunti Muni Waakye’ in Accra.

The Vice President used his QR code to pay for the waakye in a simple process, which lasted less than 60 seconds.

The universal QR Code payment system allows a customer to make payment for goods and services to a merchant directly from their mobile phone.

Addressing the media at the unveiling, Dr. Bawumia described the digital payment system as a historic game-changer in the quest to digitize Ghana’s economy and also edge the country closer into a cashless society.

“Today is a historic day because we are solving a major problem here in Ghana. It is also historic because Ghana will be the first country in Africa to launch a Quick Response (QR) code payment system,” said Bawumia.

“Not only are we the first country in Africa, we are also, as far as I am aware, the third country in the world to launch a Quick Response Code after Singapore and India.

“However, Singapore and India, their QR codes only cater for bank customers. Ghana’s QR code will cater for both bank and non-bank customers, that is those who use mobile money and have bank accounts. So in this regard, Ghana’s QR Code is unique and it is the first of its kind in the world,” he further stated.

The unveiling of the practical use of the QR Code System follows the virtual launch of the QR Code Payment System on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Speaking at the launch, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia said he was hopeful that this new digital payment system will be more widely accepted by merchants than the other forms of digital payment systems since many merchants and clients had issues with such factors as, the cost of point of sale devices, card acceptance difficulties and processing fees.

“Even for merchants that accept electronic payments, there is no interoperability across the different banks across the different telcos.

“If there is a merchant that has been acquired by Vodafone for example, then an MTN customer is not able to use their mobile account to pay that merchant.

“Also, if ECOBANK has acquired a merchant, a GCB customer cannot use the ECOBANK terminal to pay from their GCB account. So, there’s no interoperability,” said Bawumia.

Read also Integration of SSNIT number, Ghana Card near completion

According to Bawumia, “Our goal is to make a secure, convenient and low-cost financial service available to the vast majority of people and to solve the pain point of traditional financial institutions.

“In China and many parts of Asia, the universal QR Code has come as the solution to these problems that I have been talking about,” he said.

“The universal QR Code will bring about interoperability across the telcos and across all the banks and the telcos. They will all be on the same platform and this is the game-changer,” he further said.

Speaking at the unveiling ceremony, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia stated several advantages this will have on the economy.

“Ours is a cash-based economy, which is very inefficient. Historically, many have been excluded from the financial system, but we have since been working to make Ghana’s economy a cash-lite, more efficient one, with the introduction of the Mobile Money Interoperability and today, Universal QR Code,” said Bawumia

“A cash-lite economy has so many advantages. It promotes transparency, prevents robberies, helps the growth of e-commerce and fintech, and in this day of Covid 19, cash, which is a known spreader of the disease can be avoided by using the QR Code,” Bawumia further said.

Read also Ghana: GEPA assures incentive packages for investors in sugar products

What is interesting about this digital payment system is that both smartphone and non-smartphone (‘yam’) users can be paid through QR Codes.

However, while smartphone users can simply scan the code to make payments, non-smartphone users have to dial an Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) code to effect payment.

After paying for his waakye at Aunti Muni Waakye, Bawumia explained that “When you go to the merchant with a universal QR Code, as long as you have a bank account from any financial institution or a mobile money account from a telco, you’ll be able to pay the merchant regardless of which bank or telco has acquired the merchant or service provider instantly.”

“Any merchant can have it so, whether you are a chop bar operator, barber, carpenter, musician, mason, shoeshine boy, kebab seller, ‘Kofi brokeman’ seller, market trader, trotro, taxi driver, churches, schools, mosques, and even funeral committees for donations, you can get the QR Code. Basically, any business can get a QR Code,” Dr. Bawumia further explained.

Ghana: GEPA assures incentive packages for investors in sugar products

The Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), has assured that it will provide special incentive and cost reduction packages for companies that venture into local manufacture of sugar and sugar confectionery including small scale manufacturers.

This strategic intervention, according to GEPA, is designed to promote Ghanaian manufactured sugar in the sub-region and other African markets.

Though the GEPA has identified challenges including the competition of brewers of local gin and manufacturers of ethanol for the sugarcane raw materials, the authority is poised to ensure timely development of sugarcane plantations and out-grower schemes to safeguard adequate availability of raw materials for sugar factories.

Sugar is part of the 17 integrated list of products in the National Export Development Strategy, and is one of the focal items under the Non-Traditional Exports items that GEPA has outlined in the strategy.

Ghana imports about US$2 million worth of sugar annually, while the Komenda Sugar Factory continues to under produce due to the lack of raw materials.

Though government, through a Sugar Policy has reconstructed and commissioned the factory in 2016 at a reported cost of US$35 million, it was however shutdown shortly after the factory was commissioned.

The Trade Ministry has indicated that a US$24.5 million Indian Eximbank credit facility was being obtained to develop and implement a plantation and out-grower scheme in a bid to provide raw materials for the factory.

While some 14,100 acres of sugarcane is expected to be cultivated to feed the plant under the scheme, the total output of fully operational factory of 250,000 metric tonnes will still be less than the 375,000 metric tonnes required nationally. With the deficit, Ghana still needs additional sugar for the domestic market and much more for exports.

Indeed, Ghana needs to see more investments in sugar factories if the country is to become a net exporter of sugar in the sub-region.

Meanwhile, Nigerian business magnate, Aliko Dangote has, according to GEPA, expressed interest to assist Ghana to become self-sufficient in sugar production.

Integration of SSNIT number, Ghana Card near completion

Beginning next year, all Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) numbers will be integrated with the National Identification System (Ghana Card).

This implies that “your social security number will be your national ID number”, Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia said.

He made this known yesterday, when he addressed the nation on the current state of the Ghanaian economy.

Already, works on the integration have reached advanced stage and it is expected to be finalised before end of year for its implementation in 2021.

This is part of concerted efforts aimed at digitising the Ghanaian economy to ensure optimum benefits to the business community.

Aside this integration, passport, Tax Identification Number (TIN), bank account, SIM cards, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority, among others will also be integrated.

The Vice President also noted that this integration exercise will broaden the country’s tax net, especially those in the private sector.

“Currently, Ghana has less than three million people having TIN. This is expected to increase the people covered under the tax net from less than three million to 15 million”, Dr. Bawumia noted.

Cote d’Ivoire joins Ghana in threat to pull out of cocoa sustainability programmes

Cote d’Ivoire has joined Ghana in threatening to pull out of the ongoing sustainability programmes operated by major international chocolate programmes, in reaction to the actions of Herhey, which reportedly sought to buy 30,000 tonnes of cheap cocoa beads from the ICE New York futures exchange.

This is an action which the two neighboring West African countries see as an effort to derail plans for a Living Income Differential (LID) set up to help fight poverty among their cocoa farmers.

The two countries, which between account for about two-thirds of global cocoa production established LID with the reluctant acceptance of chocolate producers, which puts a US$400 per tonne premium on their cocoa, all of which goes directly to the cocoa farmers who produce their cocoa exports.

The LID takes effect from the current crop season and has enabled both governments to increase the amounts they farmers for their produce by some 28 percent.

Hershey and other chocolate makers say they support the premium in exchange for the two government’s continuing to support their sustainability programmes – which includes commitment to not using child labour for cocoa farming – which in turn allows the chocolate makers themselves able to apply premium pricing on their products.

However, Hershey’s efforts to buy cocoa through the ICE exchange, which will allow it to avoid paying the LID, suggests otherwise and boith cocoa producers interprete as a move to derail the LID arrangement altogether.

Ghana last week threatened to pull out of the sustainability programmes last week, speaking through COCOBOD’s chief executive, Joseph Boahen Aidoo. He also threatened to name and shame the companies that are trying to block efforts to give cocoa farmers a decent income.

This week his Ivorian counterpart, Yves Kone, who heads Le Conseil du Café-Cacao of Cote d’Ivoire, made similar threats in a letter to the president of the World Cocoa Foundation.

“It is a conspiracy to defeat the concept of a floor price as known, and therefore not to grant a remunerative price to all cocoa producers in our countries” Kone said in the letter which has been leaked to the media.

Hershey, whose actions have set of the dispute has responded with a statement in which it claims that it has long supported initiatives that improve the incomes and livelihoods of farmers.

“ This includes supporting and participating this year in the Ivorian and Ghanaian Living Income Differential as we buy 2020/2021 season cocoa based on the needs of our business. All 2020/2021 cocoa purchased within our supply chain since the implementation of the LID in West African countries includes this price premium. Beans sold prior to the implementation of the LID would not include the premium”.

UCC School of Business joins Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

The University of Cape Coast School of Business has become a member of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACB).

UCC has now become the second University in Ghana to be approved as a member of AACSB International, the world’s largest business education alliance, connecting educators, learners, and business to create the next generation of great leaders..

AACSB International, a global nonprofit association, connects educators, students, and businesses to achieve a common goal: to create the next generation of great leaders.

The Association which was established in 1916, provides quality assurance, business education intelligence, and learning and development services to over 1,700 member organisations and more than 840 accredited business schools worldwide.

The global organisation has offices located in Tampa, Florida, USA; Amsterdam, the Netherlands; and Singapore.

A statement by the Management of the School signed by the Dean, Prof. John Gartchie Gatsi, said the mission of the association is to foster engagement, accelerate innovation, and amplify impact in business education and has as its vision to transform business education for global prosperity.

Read also Government secures 600 acre land for Cape Coast Airport

With this development, the School of Business has joined over1700 member-institutions of the AACSB.

“The membership experience will foster improvement in quality business education, ethical values, responsibility to inspire innovation and community service, with diversity and inclusion,” the statement noted.

The statement indicated that “We are committed to the high standard required of our lecturers and administrators in delivering business education, with global mindset and inclusion.”

Read also PFJ: Making maize cultivation profiting for smallholder farmers; the benefits, the challenges and the way forward

The Management of the School commended the contributions of both teaching and non-teaching staff that led to meeting the stringent criteria set by AACSB.

PFJ: Making maize cultivation profiting for smallholder farmers; the benefits, the challenges and the way forward

Farming, though not an attractive employment opportunity for many young individuals in the country, it is a blessing in disguise. Farming as a business is lucrative and at the same time very unattractive when approached with a cultural attitude.

Undoubtedly, we have few of the youths involved in farming. As recorded in The Ghana Census of Agriculture (GCA), 2017/18, only 29.7% of people engaged in agriculture are youths (15-35 years).

Despite a small percentage of youth involved in farming, there’s hope for those engaged. Since agriculture remains the backbone of Ghana’s economy, every other government initiate policies and programs basically to develop the sector.

In April 2017, the president of Ghana H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo initiated a flagship agriculture program called Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ).

PFJ under the watch of Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto; the minister for Food and Agriculture is aimed at developing Ghana’s agriculture sector to create jobs and to move the country into a food secure state.

Since its inception, the program has received a lot of attention from the media and has led in all agriculture discourse. The five years-long programs have other sister programs like the Rearing for Food and Jobs (RFJ) and Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD).

Working with farmers in diverse rural communities, here, I stand to share some of the impact and opportunities created by the program as well as the lapses and the way forward.

Land Accessibility
The country’s agricultural lands are underutilized because the means of production are hard to come by especially among the youth.

However, one beautiful culture that exists in most rural communities is how they are willing to offer their lands to the youths for farming.

In some communities, what one needs to do is to get one or two of these items; Kola, Schnapps, Skin of a Sheep, Palm wine, Pito (a local drink made from fermented corn), and One Hundred Ghana Cedis.

With these requirements, a Chief can allocate as much as ten acres of land to one to farm arable crops.

The elders of these communities believe that, if even the dead keep increasing their numbers, how much more they the living. PFJ has even made most communities very open to youth farmers today.

Some community Chiefs now advocate for youth involvement in the program since they are willing to give them lands to farm.

Having access to land becomes much easier when a youth enters a community through the assistance of the various District Agriculture Departments.

Land Preparation
Since the commencement of the program, a huge number of farmers have benefited immensely from this life-transforming policy.

Though there is no land preparation package attached to the policy, steps have taken to revamp the country’s agriculture mechanization services unit.

For some districts and constituencies, the assembly or the Members of Parliament have provided tractors to support this initiative in their respective areas.

These tractors plow between 40% to 50% discount of the original charge. This has equally reduced the cost of production by a significant margin.

Fertilisers
Soil nutrient depletion has been so drastic in our time. Hence, crop nutrient requirements in many cases must be supplemented from an organic or inorganic source.

For ideal yields, maize must be supported with N.P.K at the growing stage and Urea at the tasseling stage.

On averagely performing soils, farmers use 150 kg of N.P.K and 50 Kg of Urea per acre. The provision of subsidized fertilizer is a major pillar of the PFJ program.

Aside from the unprecedented slashing of fertilizer prices by 50% subsidy, availability has also improved. The government now outsources from local producers.

These new N.P.K (+ TE) are with trace nutrients for better growth and yield of crops. Previously, imported N.P.K weren’t fortified with these trace nutrients.

In the open market, 50Kg of N.P.K used to be sold between GhS150 to GhS180 but the same quantity goes for GhS80 under PFJ.

Urea is equally GhS80 under PFJ even though it is -sold between GhS120 and GhS160 in the open market. One significant change resulting from PFJ is a positive toll on the prices of fertilizers in the open market.

While the prices of fertilizers have to fall, there’s equally a break from the overwhelming annual rise in the prices of fertilizers. This increased the number of farmers who access and used fertilizers to improve their yields.

Seeds
Improved seeds are an indispensable resource for agriculture development and growth. Since the initiation of PFJ, improved seed from both local and foreign sources have been made available to farmers.

Top-notch corn seeds like Pannar, Lake, and Pioneer which were expensive for farmers are now sold at 50% of their original prices. Just like fertilizer, these improved seeds are available in the system.

The advantage in planting these varieties under PFJ is that they give a high yield and they are more resistant to drought as compare to the traditional seeds our farmers plant.

Pests
Recently, the biggest enemy to maize farmers in Ghana is the Fall Army Worm (FAW). The devastating nature of the worm with an uncontrolled appetite for the corn at all stages of growth is very worrying.

A number of proactive measures have been considered to combat the worm under PFJ to subdue the ripen effect of the worm on the corn. Educating farmers about the worm have been supported with the distribution of chemicals to spray the worms.

The good news is that these chemicals since 2017 are freely given to the farmers at no cost through the various District Agriculture Departments. This has been a worthy relief to farmers. This has also given birth to innovative ways of using local herbs to control the worm.

Yield Improvement
There has been a meaningful improvement in the yields of corn for the past years. Farmers who planted hybrid varieties and apply the right amount of fertilizers on a timely basis have recorded an impressive improvement in their yields per acre.

Currently, under optimum environmental conditions with the right agronomic practices, a farmer can harvest between 1.25 tons and 2 tons on an acre.

Storage and Marketing
Smallholder farmers continually struggle with the poor handling of their harvest. Storage is the next step after harvest when foods aren’t moved immediately to the market. While the country put up a warehouse closer to the farmers, new hope sparks in the heart of the farmers.

The disruptive nature of our rural-urban market network in many instances compels farmers to sell at relatively low prices. Now farmers have the free will to sell their harvest to the National Buffer Stock.

Farmers are mostly aware of the pricing of the National Buffer Stock which isn’t influenced by availability during harvesting season. In the open market, farmers are most likely to face poor pricing at the peak harvest period.

Apparently, there is an advantage in selling to National Buffer Stock since their prices are predetermined at the beginning of the season. This has increased the marginal profits of farmers since the effect of demand and supply on pricing is neutralized by this system.

In addition, it has helped the marketing power of farmers and reduced the stress they go through to store and to sell.

Inadequate Mechanization Services
Surprisingly, some smallholder farmers at this age still practice the traditional methods of farming. Aside from availability problems, the cost of mechanization services is sometimes overwhelming for our poor farmers.

Tractor services made available by some District Assemblies or MPs at affordable prices is being helpful. However, some farmers have the notion that the service is political, therefore, they do not want to patronize it.

Addressing this challenge will require the establishment of district-level agriculture mechanization centers. These centers should be well resourced to provide diverse mechanization services for farmers.

This could be ‘Private-Government’ owned and managed to avoid the previous experience of mismanaged Agric station resources.

Unscrupulous retailing prices of seeds and fertilizers
Annually, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) announces the prices of seeds and fertilizers under PFJ at the onset of the season.

Irrespective of the awareness created, some unscrupulous retailers still sell these inputs more than the stipulated prices.

Many hide behind transportation and milk our poor farmers. Already, great steps have been taken for branding fertilizers and seeds for PFJ.

Further arrangements should be made for the branding of imported hybrid seeds for easy identification. The supply of these inputs should have a lot of checks to ensure that farmers receive them at the right price.

Merchandising Government Free Chemicals
The alleged corruption at some of the District Agriculture Departments is demoralizing. Allegedly, some of the officers extort money from the farmers before delivering free chemicals from the government to fight the armyworm.

Although some of the farmers see it as a token of appreciation, others also question the free nature of the government.

The Waiting Period
The state of our rural economies always puts farmers in need of emergency funds. Hence, the system where buffer stock buys and pay later is not favorable for many farmers.

The National Buffer Stock should be well resourced to be in the position to buy with cash in hands. This would serve as a motivation, increase patronage, and boost their confidence level for high production.

Selective Chemical Package
Across the length and breadth of Ghana, weeds control in corn farms is a staid headache for many farmers. This significantly affects their yields since weeds compete with crops for space, nutrients, and sunlight.

Aside from educating and skilling farmers on weed control, the provision of selective herbicide can help.

A greater number of farmers use a few bottles to cover wider areas than they should, due to the cost involved. A little subsidy on these herbicides can help farmers purchase enough and support local producing companies.

On the side of the country where hunger and unemployment are predominant among the youth, the Planting for Food and Jobs policy should be harnessed to achieve the realization of its objectives to curtail the menace.

The policy seems to have a positive effect on the farmers and the stakeholders who are both actively and passively involved, therefore, effort should be put in place to sustain the policy to continue to impact and transform the livelihoods of our farmers.

Once we can maintain and develop it, farming would inevitably be enticing for the teeming unemployed youths in the country.

Written by: Samuel Abroquah

Government secures 600 acre land for Cape Coast Airport

CAPE COAST AIRPORT

A high-powered delegation from the Aviation Ministry, led by the Minister, Mr Kofi Adda, has inspected a 600-acre land earmarked for the construction of the Cape Coast Airport at Ankaful.

The land, according to the Metropolitan Chief Executive of Cape Coast, Mr Ernest Arthur, is a government land, which had been purposefully reserved for the construction of the airport.

The delegation, including officials of the Ghana Airport Company, expressed delight at the development so far with Mr Adda saying; “This is good for the start”.

It could be recalled that in March, this year, some residents of Cape Coast took to the streets in demand of an international airport in the town chanting: “No airport No vote”.

Consequently, Dr Mahmudu Bawumia announced at the launch of the governing New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) Manifesto in Cape Coast in August that government would build an airport and a harbour there.

Read also Central Region gets New Passport Application Centre, office commissioned in Cape Coast

Some residents in the ancient capital were sceptical about the feasibility of the project and asked the Government to be clear on that as they were looking forward to it.

However, there seem to be some high hopes for the project following the inspection of the land by the Aviation Minister and his entourage.

Addressing the media after the inspection, Mr Adda indicated the potential for expansion and said the 600-acre land was enough for the run-way and terminal building, as well as other important facilities needed to made the airport functional.

He said feasibility studies showed that there was potential for a viable airport in Cape Coast, hence government’s decision to construct one there.

Read also WAKANDA CITY OF RETURN: Cape Coast signs MoU with African Diaspora Development Institute, others for creation of Ultra-Modern Smart City

Funding had been secured, he said, and that once the necessary ground and paper works were completed, it would be sent to Parliament for approval.

Mr Adda was optimistic that the airport would provide many direct and indirect jobs to reduce unemployment in the Cape Coast Metropolis.

The Minister, with the Member of Parliament for Cape Coast North, Mrs Barbara Asher Ayisi, and Mr Arthur, the Cape Coast MCE, earlier paid a courtesy call on the Omanhen of Oguaa Traditional Area, Osabarima Kwesi Atta II.

Wiawso Paramount chief supports Forestry Commission with drones

The Paramount chief of Sefwi-Wiawso Traditional Area, Katakyie Kwasi Bumankah II, has presented two Mavic mini-drones to the Forestry Commission to help protect the forest in the area.

Presenting the items at the Okogyeabo palace, Katakyie Bumankah II, said the donation was to help the Sefwi-Wiawso and Juabeso districts of the Commission to monitor the activities in the forest to protect it from illegal activities.

Read also Government should tighten pesticides approval process in Ghana – Environmentalist

Nana said, “The issue of forest reserves is very dear to my heart and I will do everything possible to protect it because when the forest is destroyed, there would be no Sefwi.”

He charged the Commission to use the drone for the intended purposes.

Mr William Baah, Deputy Director in charge of Eastern, Ashanti, Ahafo, Western and Western North Regions, who received the drones on behalf of the Forestry Commission, commended the paramount chief for the gesture.

Read also Access To Loans: Bank of Nigeria favours farmers using improved, disease-free cassava varieties for lending Loans

He said the drones would go a long way to assist them to monitor the activities in the forest to protect it from illegal chain saw and mining operations.

Environmentalist urges Government of Ghana to tighten pesticides approval process

An environmentalist, Professor Alfred Oteng-Yeboah, has called on the government to tighten the pesticides approval process in Ghana to phase out harmful insect killers in the system.

The Professor of Botany at the University of Ghana also urged the government to also clamp down on the influx of unapproved pesticides on the Ghanaian market.

The former Deputy Director-General of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Prof. Oteng-Yeboah, was speaking at a workshop on “Highly Hazardous Pesticide (HHPs) use in Ghana’s Cocoa and Agricultural Landscape: The Way Forward” in Accra.

The workshop seeks to share the findings of a research conducted by Conservation Alliance (CA) under its Sector Partnership Programme (SPP) implemented over the past three years.

The Alliance is implementing a project focused on HHPs use in Ghana in the Cocoa Sector and Agricultural landscape under the SPP.

The SPP is funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands through Rainforest Alliance. It also centred on the promotion and adoption of alternatives to HHPs.

The former Environmental Protection Agency board member also said if Ghana’s cocoa sector was to do very well, then the effects of pesticides use in Cocoa Production, especially on health and the environment, must be seriously looked at.

Prof. Oteng-Yeboah also indicated more research must be conducted to establish the effects of pesticides on the health of the environment and the communities as well as the cost to the economic growth in Ghana.

Read also Ghana: Stakeholders collaborate to address deforestation and boost cocoa production

“Alternatives to the use of harmful pesticides in the agriculture production, especially Cocoa production must be vigorously pursued to boost productivity and also safeguard the health of farmers and the environment,” he added.

He expressed the hope that the workshop would bring to light ways to reduce the reliance on pesticides use in the Cocoa Sector and agriculture as a whole to the harmful effects of these pesticides was collectively phase-out.

Mr. Raymond Owusu-Achiaw, the Programmes Officer, said with the project coming to an end in December 2020, CA sought to share some insights and findings, and also present on the progress made during this 3-year project.

He said it was to enhance farmers’ access subsidized Cocoa fertilizer, planting materials and pesticides and to promote the safe usage of approved pesticides.

It is also to promote alternatives including the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to the use of HHPs in Cocoa farming.

On the outcome, the Programmes Officer said it would enhance farmers’ voice on issues affecting them like inputs distribution and IPM adoption.

Read also Access To Loans: Bank of Nigeria favours farmers using improved, disease-free cassava varieties for lending Loans

He informed that it was also to improve relationship with stakeholders including COCOBOD, EPA and Parliament.

“It is to improve awareness on the use of HHPs among Cocoa farmers and the use of alternative IPM.

On the way forward, Mr Owusu-Achiaw said the Alliance sought to forge partnership with the French Facility for Global Environment to scale up the intervention.

He said the conclusions indicated that women cocoa farmers had slight lower knowledge of the use of pesticides in terms of good personal hygiene after pesticides use with the mode of application compared to their male counterparts.

“Women Cocoa farmers use HHPs just because of recommendation,” he said.

He said Cocoa farmers should be educated on HHPs and its consequences on them and the environment.

Read also Phase out harmful pesticides in cocoa production – Stakeholders advocate

Dr Richard Adu-Acheampong, Head, Entomology Division, Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana, said improved methods of surveillance for disease and pest prediction would assist in the early identification of specific problems.

He said the recently launched Cocoa Management System projects that COCOBOD would give real-time pest and disease hotspots for prompt action at all times.

“COCOBOD will give all spraying teams adequate training and support so they could operate as privatized service provider entities in the communities,” he said.

Dr Adu-Acheampong said the future strategy for disease and pest control would be based primarily on good agricultural practices and technologies aimed at avoiding or minimizing the effects of disease and pest.

Access To Loans: Bank of Nigeria favours farmers using improved, disease-free cassava varieties for lending Loans

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says only farmers who grow improved disease-free cassava stems will have access to the N25billion facility it has created to boost cassava production in the country.

The policy aims at ensuring that beneficiaries of the facility have increased productivity and are able to repay loans and make incomes for themselves.

A senior official of the apex bank, Chinedu Ogbonnaya, who represented the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, made this known during the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) BASIC-II Cassava Seed Entrepreneurs and Nigeria Cassava Growers Association (NCGA).

The event, which took place at the office of the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) in Sheda, Abuja, was witnessed by major stakeholders in the cassava sector, including the CBN, NASC, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike Seeds, and IITA GoSeed.

Mr Ogbonaya said the CBN realized that without the use of improved varieties, cassava production would not be profitable.

“This year, we insisted that cassava growers must plant only improved seeds before they can access our loan facility,” he said.

Read also Phase out harmful pesticides in cocoa production – Stakeholders advocate

Under its intervention in the cassava sector, the CBN is targeting more than 100,000 farmers across the states of the federation for 2020.

The amount is split into two – N11 billion allocated to five-star farmers (those growing from five hectares and above) and N14 billion to conventional farmers (those planting between one and four hectares).

The Project Manager, Building an Economically Sustainable, Integrated Cassava Seeds System, Phase 2 (BASICS-II), IITA, Prof Lateef Sanni said the project would work with the Nigeria Cassava Growers Association to ensure the adequate supply of improved cassava varieties to farmers.

“As a project in IITA with the mandate to create a sustainable cassava seed system, we are willing to assist the CBN to achieve its goals,” he said.

Professor Chiedozie Egesi of the NRCRI, on his part, assured that NRCRI would work with BASICS-II and the NCGA to ensure the availability of improved cassava stems, stressing that any cassava grower that does not get improved certified seeds from the right source was starting on a wrong footing.

Chairman of Benue State Seed Producers Cooperative Union (BSSPCU), Mr. Francis Chia, in a brief remark, thanked the major stakeholders for the opportunity given to cassava growers to be part of the cassava revolution in Nigeria.

Read also Nigeria: BASICS-II Onboards 45 New Cassava Seed Entrepreneurs In Kogi State To Address Seed Gap In Cassava

The BASICS-II project aims to transform the cassava seed sector by promoting the dissemination of improved varieties thereby creating a community of seed entrepreneurs across the cassava value chain. The five-year project will focus on Nigeria and Tanzania with a spin-off to other African countries.

For more information, please contact: Godwin Atser, g.atser@cgiar.org , Digital Extension & Advisory Services Specialist

Phase out harmful pesticides in cocoa production – Stakeholders advocate

Stakeholders in the cocoa sector are advocating for less application of pesticides to protect farmers and also avoid a global ban on Ghana’s cocoa beans.

This follows a research conducted by the Conservation Alliance titled ‘Pesticides Application within Ghana’s Cocoa Production Landscape’, which showed that many farmers are unaware of the dangers associated with the abuse of pesticides.

According to the research, pesticides such as Confidor and Condo, used mainly in cocoa farming, are also misused by some vegetable farmers – posing a threat to humans.

Speaking to the B&FT after a workshop in Accra, the Programmes Manager of Conservation Alliance, Raymond Owusu-Achiaw, said it is time to review the Cocoa Pest and Disease Control (CODAPEC) programme to discourage the use of pesticides which have been banned in Europe.

“If Europe has banned the use of certain pesticides and is still producing it for us, then it is time to look at the CODAPEC programme and review it,” he said, adding that in the cocoa sustainability programme pesticides should be a last resort for farmers.

He stated that some of the pesticides supplied to cocoa farmers in Ghana have been phased-out in the European Union (EU) due to the dangers associated with those chemicals.

“What we are saying to the policymakers is: look at your policies. Look at other places like the EU. If the EU is producing these pesticides but says they are hazardous, why are you importing them? Find ways and means to phase them out. We are putting the health of our farmers in danger,” he stressed.

Read also Ghanaian cashew farmers leverage technology to receive better prices

Citing Mozambique as an example, Mr. Owusu-Achiaw said Ghana can learn from the southern African country by banning some pesticides and encouraging the use of organic pesticides.

He mentioned, for example, that some of the pesticides have been identified to be hazardous to the point of killing insects which help in the process of pollination. “The bees and other important insects that help in the process of pollination are all being destroyed by these pesticides.”

He pointed out that cocoa farmers can adopt farming practices which are less harmful in controlling pests; such as mechanical systems, biological systems and pruning.

Highlighting other recommendations in the research, Mr. Owusu-Achiaw disclosed that most farmers in rural areas are not getting access to subsidised farm inputs distributed by government. This, he said, has increased the cost of production for these farmers who are mostly smallholders.

Read also Ghanaian cashew farmers leverage technology to receive better prices

“We realised most of them do not belong to cooperatives, that was one of the challenges. Most of the farmers are not getting access to inputs like fertiliser. COCOBOD is working on it by urging farmers to join cooperatives,” he said.

The Conservation Alliance of Ghana is a non-profit organisation that serves as a catalyst for biodiversity conservation and improved socioeconomic conditions in African communities.

The organisation uses its grant for undertaking campaigns to mainstream biodiversity conservation into cocoa production landscapes across the country.

Ghana: Stakeholders collaborate to address deforestation and boost cocoa production

A stakeholders’ workshop to discuss measures to address deforestation and boost cocoa production in the Ahafo Region has been held at Goaso.

It was also to share and discuss outcomes of a study on socio – economic and ecological assessment of the Asunafo- Asutifi cocoa production area for clear understanding of risks, issues, challenges and opportunities for the development of a sustainable cocoa production landscape.

The workshop was jointly organized by Proforest, Forestry Commission, COCOBOD and World Cocoa Foundation, to provide a platform for the stakeholders to work together towards the development of a management and investment plan to address deforestation, low cocoa production, protection of forest reserves and promote climate smart agricultural activities in the area.

Over 80 representatives from Asunafo North Municipality, Asunafo South and Asutifi North Districts in the Ahafo Region, which have been designated as the Asunafo- Asutifi Hotspot Intervention Area (HIA) attended the workshop.

Dr. Augustus Asamoah, Principal Project Manager of Proforest speaking at the workshop, said Ghana was taking steps to address deforestation and its impact on cocoa production in cocoa producing areas through the Ghana cocoa forest REDD+ Program (GCFRP).

This programme, according to him, represented the largest fully- functional jurisdictional programme in Ghana that provided the framework for engaging multiple government institutions, private sector, civil society, traditional authorities and community representatives, to address key deforestation and forest degradation issues as well as community livelihood improvement, while building climate resilience in the cocoa sector.

Read also We are re-energizing our Smallholder Farmers the need to see Agriculture as a Business – CEO BEIT Farms

The Technical Advisor to Chief Executive of Forestry Commission ( FC), Dr. Kwakye Ameyaw, asked members in forest fringe communities to lead the fight against deforestation in the country’s forest reserves since it contributed to climate change and impacted negatively on cocoa production.

He said community members, especially farmers, had a critical role to play in fighting illegal operators in forest reserves by reporting them to the Commission for their arrest and prosecution.

Dr. Ameyaw, pointed out that the government alone cannot fight the menace unless community members who lived with the perpetrators took bold decisions to report them.

He said FC was working closely with all key stakeholders to address challenges in the sector to sustain the country’s forest.

Mr. Charles Sarpong Duah, Manager of the Climate Change Unit of the FC, appealed to traditional leaders and the media to take an active part in the campaign and educate the public on the negative impact of deforestation and the need to plant trees in their localities.

Dr. Shalom D. Addo Danso, Lead Consultant of KABSTREK Consult, said unsustainable agricultural activities, especially for cocoa and food crop production had been identified as one of the most important drivers of deforestation.

He mentioned ageing farmer population, ageing cocoa farms, land tenure issues, low involvement of the youth in cocoa production, excessive hunting, pollution of water bodies, illegal logging and farming in forest reserves, as some of the challenges facing cocoa production in the area.

Read also Ghanaian cashew farmers leverage technology to receive better prices

Dr. Addo Danso advocated for improved law enforcement by the Forestry Commission and other law enforcement agencies to reduce the impact of illegal activities in the forest to sustain key ecological, cultural and historical habitats.

He stressed on the need for a massive reforestation program to rehabilitate the forest reserves in the landscape.

Dr. Addo Danso also called for the training of farmer groups, traditional leaders and local government leaders to adopt beneficial and climate- smart cocoa farming to sustain production.

Mr. James Parker, Project Manager of Proforest, said outcomes from the workshop and follow-up actions would be used to finalize the management and investment plan for the Asunafo- AsutifiI HIA.

He said the development of the plans would be financed by UK aid through the Forest, Governance, Market and Climate (FGMC) program and eight cocoa buying companies, while its implementation would be done through the HIA governance structure, which had been established by Forestry Commission through Tropenbos International.

Ghanaian cashew farmers leverage technology to receive better prices

An increasing number of Ghanaian smallholder cashew farmers are getting better prices on their harvests, and reducing their operations expenses, thanks to the continued rollout of a smartphone app that gives them direct access to Olam Food Ingredients in Ghana.

The app empowers farmers to get prices directly from the company rather than from traditional buying agents, which yields not only higher prices for their cashews but cost savings on their expenses.

This can have significant positive impacts on farmers and their communities: if the average daily food budget for a typical household of five is Ghc14 Ghc15 (equivalent to $2.40 – $2.58), farmers using the app can receive funds worth another month of food.

It is one part of a robust, proprietary solution called ‘Olam Direct’, which was developed in-house to provide a variety of apps and tools to not only provide greater transparency on pricing, but access to inputs like better fertilizer use and farming advice such as insights on efficient land use to fight climate change.

The purchasing app was first piloted in 2018 and involved approximately 1,000 farmers and 125 tonnes of cashews. This year, over 5,400 farmers are participating and selling 3,100 tonnes, and Olam sees the number increasing to 8,000 tonnes in 2021.

“When we empower farmers to do better for themselves, whether through business operations or supporting their communities and environments, we all win,” said Mr. Anantharaman. Shekhar, CEO, Olam Food Ingredients.

“Olam Direct is a textbook example of using technology to disintermediate and transform a supply chain so that it works more efficiently and fairly.

“Sustainability depends on the health and success of farmers on whom our customers depend and working together, we can meet the increasing demands of consumers for food products that are not only natural but right for both planet and producer,” Mr. Shekhar said.

In addition, farmer participation in Olam Direct also provides the company’s customers with traceable and reliable visibility into their purchases (all transactions are geotagged and timestamped, with farmers’ consent) and delivered via its AtSource platform.

It is a core technology pillar for delivering Olam’s long-term vision to re-imagine agribusiness and food supply by focusing on empowering farmers and customers.

“Olam Direct, as a new and unique buying model, has equipped us to engage with cashew farmers directly and create a relationship which is beyond transactional nature,” said Mr. Amit Agrawal, Country Head of Olam Ghana Limited.

“Through it, we provide more transparency in price to farmers and help them appropriate better margins by disintermediating aggregators in the cashew supply chain. We also work with cashew farmers in the off-season providing them knowledge training, need-based farmer loans, and farming inputs,” Mr. Agrawal said.

Established in 1994, Olam Food Ingredient’s global cashew business has grown in Ghana through strong, year-round farmer relationships that extend beyond the harvest season; its training programmes in good agricultural practice encourage sustainability and over 30 programmes on 12 different relevant topics were delivered in 2019.

A programme to train 400 female farmers as beekeepers in the off-season already produced anecdotal increases in income of 15%.

Intriguingly, the programme’s success evidences a broader transformation of the sector: Almost half of the farmers benefiting from the Olam Direct programme are women and, as numerous studies find that they are responsible both for farm productivity and family health and well-being, it delivers direct and indirect benefits to entire communities.

Additionally, many of the buying agents have transitioned to become micro-collectors for its digital transactions, thereby creating new job opportunities, and Olam is pioneering organising individual farmers to form groups so they can have greater voices in the selling process, as well as receive equal treatment.

Olam Direct also empowers farmers to receive market information and alerts from Olam, ask questions directly via the app, and provide feedback or report issues to the company.

We are re-energizing our Smallholder Farmers the need to see Agriculture as a Business – CEO BEIT Farms

The Chief Executive Officer of BEIT Farms, Mr. Evans Larbi, is asking farmers across the African continent to see farming as a serious business.

The Chief Executive Officer believes that agriculture plays an important role when it comes to the economic development of this continent.

“The continent has some of the richest natural resources for agricultural production in the world, so why are we still importing junk foods into our continent” he quizzed.

The Chief Executive Officer made these remarks in an interview with this reporter, at the Africa Smallholder Farmers Summit 2020 with the theme; “Creating jobs for African Women and Youth through smallholder farming”.

The summit brought together participants from Ghana and other Africa countries here in Accra.

The summit was organized by BEIT Farms Ghana in collaboration with the University of Ghana (Agric Department), Ag-INNOVATE, and Ghana Association of Agricultural Economist (GAAE).

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Mr. Larbi pointed out that unlocking the country’s agricultural potential will create jobs as well as providing enough food for domestic supply, adding that the task was made more urgent by the vast sums spent on food imports, with Africa spending an annual total of about US$35bn.

However, a change in strategy will be necessary in order to achieve this goal, Larbi added. “Agriculture must cease being treated as a development programme; agriculture must henceforth be treated as a business,” the CEO said.

Chief Executive Officer for Okata Farms Mrs. Mabel Akoto Kwudzo and 2017 second national best farmer believes that there needs to be a comprehensive repositioning of agriculture among the nation’s youth, including how it is presented in the school system and, by extension, viewed by society as a lesser career choice.

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Mrs. Kwudzo said that along with creating a youth in agriculture policy, which would address some of the long-standing issues that face the youth in agriculture such as access to land and funding for agriculture, marketing and information about the industry, the issue of how agriculture is taught in schools will also have to be addressed.

“There also has to be a bigger approach and a bigger rethink, and a part of that rethink will have to start in our education sector,” she said.

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The 2020 Best Farmer, Youth in Agriculture for the Upper Manya Krobo District in the Eastern Region underscored the urgency for consistent advocacy on the challenges confronting smallholder farmers and entreated the media to mainstream the sector in the national agenda.

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“Agriculture is not a secondary profession. It’s not a fallback profession. It is not something you do if you don’t have anything else to do. We need agriculture to be given pride of place in our education curriculum and not just to be taught to our students on the basis of primary agriculture,” she also said.

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