Chief Executive Officer of Cocobod Joseph Boahen Aidoo has said the country is likely to hit 1.5 million tonnes of cocoa production in the medium term owing to rehabilitation programmes being carried out in various cocoa-growing areas in the country.
Speaking at the 2021 maiden Orange Cocoa Day event at the residence of the Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana, the Cocobod CEO said close to 20 percent of productive cocoa farms in the country have been devastated by the cocoa swollen shoot virus disease, which has led to low productivity and low income for farmers, saying, “We’re working to rehabilitate all such devastated areas, including even over-aged cocoa farms.”
He reiterated Cocobod’s commitment to ensure cocoa sustainability as well as tackle climate change challenges.
“Cocobod acknowledges that deforestation and forest degradation have serious consequences on biodiversity and climate change,” he said.
“In an attempt to preserve the environment and restore the forest, fight climate change and enhance lives of farmers and their communities, the government of Ghana through Cocobod is implementing programmes within the cocoa landscape, as well as collaborating with stakeholders to address issues that affect sustainability of cocoa production,” he added.
He indicated that Cocobod’s environmentally friendly and socially responsible measures include the Environmental and Social Management System (ESMS) and Environmental and Social Management Plan (ESMP), which aim at identifying and managing potential environmental challenges while seeking to minimise social and economic risks.
The Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana, Jeroen Verheul, speaking at the event, urged stakeholders to nurture and adopt market-based models to foster cocoa sustainability.
“Some of the market-based models that need nurturing and adoption are the Rural Service Centres (RSCs). This model addresses the issue of access to improved agronomic services, creates employment for the youth and promotes continuity in the cocoa sector,” he said, adding that these sustainability issues can be addressed by both policy and on-the-ground activity implementation.
The Orange Cocoa Day event was put together by the Netherlands embassy to continue discussions to deepen understanding on cocoa sustainability issues that have been with the sector for a long while.
Hammond Mensah, Programme Manager, Cocoa Rehabilitation and Intensification Programme, Solidaridad, said recognising the strategic relevance of cocoa to the economies of West African countries and the Netherlands, the Dutch government is funding the second phase of the Cocoa Rehabilitation and Intensification Programme (CORIP11) in Ghana, Côte d’ Ivoire, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.
CORIP11 is implemented by Solidaridad and seeks to use public funds to leverage private sector investments from commercial banks and impact investors for cocoa rehabilitation and intensification.
The programme follows the successful implementation of CORIP 1, which demonstrated the business case for developing the West African cocoa production sector through rural service centres led by the private sector.
Mr. Mensah said under the second phase of the programme, rural service centres are established by young entrepreneurs with support from Solidaridad as private sector-driven vehicles to deliver production and marketing services for smallholder cocoa farmers.
“Solidaridad facilitates concessional financing for these entrepreneurs to build service centres to enable them to render services to cocoa farmers in hard-to-reach communities. The rural service centre aligns with Solidaridad’s strategic plan to improve sustainable cocoa production through the small and medium enterprises,” he added.
So far, 51 service centres have been established by youth entrepreneurs under the programme, he said.