NPP will increase cocoa production again – Nana Addo

The 2016 presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has assured cocoa farmers across the country of a massive overhaul of the cocoa sector which will ensure that the dwindling fortunes of the sector, as witnessed over the last 8 years of the National Democratic Congress government, are reversed.

According to Nana Akufo-Addo, with Ghana barely managing to produce 740,000 metric tonnes of cocoa in the 2014/2015 crop year, from a peak of 1 million metric tonnes in 2010/2011 which was achieved with programmes initiated by the Kufuor-led NPP administration, the cocoa sector, once a major foreign exchange earner for the country, is in dire need of rescue.

Thus, an Akufo-Addo government, according to Nana Addo, will institute measures including the payment of significantly higher producer prices of cocoa above the levels which the NDC administration has provided to farmers in the last 7 years; the reintroduction of bonuses scrapped by the NDC government; ensuring that wards of cocoa farmers gain access to COCOBOD scholarships; and the reintroduction and non-politicisation of the mass spraying exercise and the hi-tech programmes.

This, Nana Akufo-Addo noted, will increase massively cocoa production, whilst, at the same time, improving the welfare and livelihoods of cocoa farming communities across the country.

The NPP flagbearer made this known on Tuesday, February 16, whilst addressing a townhall meeting of identifiable groups, comprising of cocoa farmers, artisans, market women, drivers, the clergy, Moslem clerics, chiefs, amongst others, in Daboase, in the Wassa East constituency, in the Western Region.

Recounting the NPP’s record in the cocoa sector under President Kufuor, Nana Akufo-Addo explained that the mass cocoa spraying exercise and subsidized fertilizer programmes, originally introduced under the Kufuor administration, was solely responsible for doubling cocoa production within 2 crop years, from less than 350,000 metric tonnes in 2001/2002 to nearly 700,000 metric tonnes in 2003/2004, and to the peak of 1 million metric tonnes in 2010/2011.

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Through these initiatives, together with the four-fold increase in producer prices under the NPP government, Nana Akufo-Addo noted that cocoa farmers’ incomes were boosted substantially.

These gains, he stressed, have, however, been quickly eroded within a short period of 8 years by President Mahama and his NDC government.

“All the initiatives put in place by President Kufuor have collapsed. Mass spraying exercise has collapsed. Subsidised fertilisers no longer get to farmers. Producer price of cocoa has reduced in real terms, and cocoa bonuses which the NPP paid whilst we were in office has been scrapped. It is not surprising, therefore, that, today, producing 700,000 metric tonnes of cocoa has become very difficult. We will reverse all of this,” he assured.

Responding to a plea by a representative of cocoa farmers in the constituency, about the discrimination faced by wards of cocoa farmers in trying to access COCOBOD scholarships, Nana Akufo-Addo noted that these scholarships were instituted, primarily, for children of cocoa farmers.

“It is sad that children of cocoa farmers are finding it difficult to access these scholarships which are meant for them. I assure you that, God-willing, when we come into office, we are going change that,” he stressed.

Nana Akufo-Addo concluded by assuring cocoa farmers across the country that his government, God-willing from 2017, will facilitate the promotion of cocoa farmers’ co-operatives as a means of making their voices heard in the formulation of policies concerning their welfare and their businesses.