The President, John Dramani Mahama, will in the coming days, cut sod for one of his flagship projects; the rehabilitation works on all roads in cocoa growing areas, in the country.
The specially designed road projects under the sponsorship of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), will see the injection of US$150 million every year for the next five years totalling US$750 million.
Six out of the ten regions, will benefit from the project and they are Eastern, Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Volta and Western, where the cash crop is largely grown.
Every procurement work is being followed, and according to credible information, immediately the procedure is completed, he will cut sod for the project referred to
as “Cocoa Roads Rehabilitation Project”, paving way for contractors to move to site.
President Mahama, recently said that the project would not only help reduce the unending post harvest losses on the part of farmers, but would ultimately improve transportation in the areas, adding that additional GH¢2million has also been set aside to build schools at the cocoa growing areas.
The announcement of the cocoa road project was first made by the Minister for Roads and Highways, Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, when he and President Mahama, inspected the progress of work on some roads which were being constructed in Takoradi in the Western Region last year.
The President, also spoke about the project, when he addressed the chiefs of Sienchem in the Assin South district of the Central Region, where he celebrated his second anniversary as president.
The visit was in fulfilment of a promise he made to some young cocoa farmers in the district, led by the 2013 National Best Young Farmer, Samuel Torbi.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of COCOBOD, Dr. Stephen Opuni, is currently meeting cocoa farmers in these areas to interact with them.
Dr. Opuni and his entourage, are interacting with the farmers to know their concerns and challenges and how best to solve them.
Both the farmers and officials of COCOBOD, who sat through the meetings, said it was fruitful.
The farmers in particular expressed satisfaction about the whole exercise.
Meanwhile, licensed buying companies, say the business of cocoa purchases was generally slow in 2014. The industry players are, however, optimistic that business will pick up gradually before closure of the main crop season.
“When you have a bounty harvest the previous year, the following year is likely to be a bit slow,” explained Emmanuel Arthur, Managing Director of Kuapa Kokoo Company Limited, a Ghanaian farmer-based organization.
The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has projected a production target of 850,000 metric tonnes for the 2014-2015 cocoa crop season.
The upward review of the producer price of cocoa and premium payments for certified cocoa beans, are factors expected to motivate farmers to boost production.
“The season being slow does not mean we are not getting the cocoa but it is not as brisk and as bountiful as it used to be, but it is likely we can meet the target,” stated Mr. Arthur in an interview with Kumasi-based Luv FM.
He has also observed that the 62 percent increase in producer price of cocoa announced in October 2014 is attracting a lot more people to venture into cocoa farming.
“People are now rehabilitating their farms and trying to put up new farms; people are now going back to the hinterlands looking for their lands which they abandoned,”
Mr. Arthur noted. “I believe that if we will be very brave and be marching our local price against the world market price, especially anytime it goes up, then I believe a lot of people will go into cocoa farming”. Improved port activities will also enhance haulage of cocoa beans for export, he added.