Cocoa farmers pessimistic about production

With the unpredictable rainfall pattern due to climate change, some cocoa farmers in the Ashanti, Bono, Ahafo, and Western North regions fear the country may miss out its production target this year.

Ghana is hoping to exceed 1.4 million tonnes for the 2022-2023 season as a result of interventions introduced by government and other stakeholders in the cocoa sector to improve yields.

But farmers are pessimistic about this year’s production. They complained about harsh weather due to delays of the rains.

“Most of the cocoa trees are fruiting but lack of rain is causing the pods to fall prematurely”, a farmer at Aponaponso in the Ashanti region, Osei Kofi said.

“The rainfall pattern in recent time is a complete deviation from the norm. Last year for instance, we recorded low yields because the rain came in excess. Though cocoa trees prosper under abundant rain, excessive and continuous rainfall also poses threat to the plant. This year, the rain has delayed and this is not good for us”, another farmer from Adantia in the Bono region, Yaw Kumi noted.

“My yields have been reducing from 2020 due to the change in weather. If the rains delay, the fruits do not mature and if rains heavy and continuous too, the fruits fall off. This year, we are likely to record a decline”, a farmer from Sefwi Bekwai in the Western North region, Pius Amponsah stressed.

These concerns were raised when the Dutch Ambassador to Ghana, Jeroen Verheul engaged the farmers in their respective communities to familiarize himself with opportunities and challenges in the cocoa sector and get first-hand information about the impact of the second phase of the Cocoa Rehabilitation and Intensification Program (CORIP II), implemented by Solidaridad.

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Netherland is the largest importer of cocoa beans and supports the development of the cocoa sector in Ghana through Solidaridad.

“The Netherlands and Ghana have been in trade relations for decades and cocoa has been an important part of it. That is why we are interested in development of the cocoa sector”, Jeroen Verheul noted.

The diplomat expressed concern about the impact of weather and climatic condition on the yields which points to farmers fear of recording lower yields than last year.

“We passed a number of cocoa farms and realized pods were not on the trees as they should be. So, it’s likely the yields will be quite low this year which will be a challenge and that shows how climate change is affecting cocoa production”

He was however hopeful structures developed under CORIP II can feed into the new cocoa strategy of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Ghana.

The Ashanti regional manager of Cocoa Health and Extension Division of the Ghana Cocoa Board, Kwadwo Osei Danso admitted low in production this year.

“It is natural that when the tree produces heavy crop, it comes with lower crop in the subsequent years. But we are hoping to get an enhanced yields in the minor season with the onset of the rains though we may miss out on our target”.

He however encouraged farmers to adopt good agronomic practices to leverage investments made by government in the cocoa sector to increase yields.

The Ambassador is on a three-day visit to some beneficiary communities CORIP II.

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The trip forms part of the Embassy’s agribusiness week.

Solidaridad, in collaboration with Community Extension Agents from CHED, has trained over 36,000 cocoa farmers on climate-smart cocoa production in the Ashanti Region.

By Ibrahim Abubakar||Ghana