COCOBOD secures US$100m World Bank support for cocoa rehabilitation

The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has secured a US$100 million financing facility from the World Bank to rehabilitate old farms across six cocoa growing districts in the country.

The beneficiary cocoa growing districts of the project include Assin Fosu, New Edubiase, Nkawkaw, and Juaso.

The four-year project would support the cutting down of cocoa trees, which have lived 20 years and above, land preparations, and the provision of planting materials, including seedlings and suckers.

Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), COCOBOD, made this disclosure in an interview with journalists as part of a field trip to some farms in Assin Fosu in the Central Region on Thursday, July 4, 2024.

The visit was to assess the work of extension officers, and government interventions to farmers, while educating and sensitising them on best practices to increase cocoa yields.

He explained that though the trees that would be cut down were not diseased, they had outlived their lifespan, with some being more than
30 years, making them become ‘Moribund’ trees.

‘Once cocoa hits 20 years and above, it has spent its life span, and from that stage, you realise that it bears no fruits, no pods, and the flowers don’t come, yet the farmer would be maintaining such a farm, and this is not productive,’ he said.

That, Boahen Aidoo said required rehabilitation, which once done, would help rejuvenate the farms, leading to increased iproduction.

He stated that COCOBOD would support the beneficiary farmers with plantain suckers, labour for planting, and provide them with extension officers to educate and assist them with the management of their farms for optimum yields.

He noted that should the farmers be provided with seedlings without any other assistance, it would be difficult for them to do the work on their respective farms and achieve the expected outcome.

‘We went to one farm, and they were doing 30 hectares. If you cut the trees from this 30-hectare land, and you want the farmer to provide plantain suckers within one ye
ar, they cannot. That’s why we’re supporting them,’ he said.

He noted that Ghana had implemented a similar project with support from the African Development Bank (AfDB) under the Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme, which focused on ending Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease (CSSVD).

During the field visit and durbar, farmers called on the government to expedite efforts in constructing roads in cocoa growing areas to support carting of produce after harvesting and reduce post-harvest losses.

They also called for more extension officers, noting that the training and assistance provided by the officers had been helpful in their farming activities.

Nana Kweku Appotoi IV, Aboabohene, Assin Nyankomase, bemoaned the deplorable roads in almost all cocoa growing communities in Assin Fosu, urging COCOBOD to spearhead actions to put the roads in shape.

While committing to ensuring that cocoa farms were not taken over by illegal miners, he urged the farmers to adhere to best practices, and extend the knowledge received to
farmers who could not attend the event.

Addressing the concerns of farmers, Boahen Aidoo said the government, following the hikes in cocoa prices, would see to the allocation of funds to fix deplorable roads in cocoa growing communities.

He advised farmers not to grow cocoa in sandy and clay soils, stop burning weeds, and selling branches of cocoa trees to be used as firewood, instead, leave them on their farms to serve as mulch.

He also cautioned them against the use of harmful weedicides, like ’round up,’ and glyphosate (commonly known as ‘condemn’), and use materials like poultry manure on their farms.

The weedicides, he said, contained acid and other chemicals, which were harmful to the cocoa and other plants, killed microorganisms and made soils to lose their essential nutrients, thereby, reducing crop yields.

On their part, the COCOBOD CEO said, since 2020 they had procured about 100,000 motorized slashers and pruners, to help clear cocoa farms, and increase production, urging farmers to access the
m from various district offices.

Regarding extension officers, he said COCOBOD had increased the officers-to-farmers ration from the previously one-to-three thousand to one-to-600, almost meeting the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) international standard of one extension officer-to-500 farmers.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Gari traders in Koforidua struggle as cassava shortage pushes up prices 

The gari market in Koforidua is reeling from a severe shortage of cassava, leading to a sharp hike in prices. 

 This is sending shockwaves through the industry, leaving gari traders struggling to make ends meet. 

The traders/operators suffered poor sales last month due to a substantial price hike triggered by a shortage of cassava, a market survey conducted by the Ghana News Agency in the second quarter of 2024 has revealed. 

The decline in cassava supply has largely been attributed to farmers shifting their focus to other crops, leading to a scarcity of root vegetable. 

Ms Comfort Boateng, a gari trader, told the GNA that sales slowed down from April to June due to the price hike. 

She attributed the decline in sales to cassava farmers’ decision to shift from producing the crop to growing garden eggs and okra instead. 

Ms Boateng said many cassava farmers had switched to producing garden eggs and okra, adding: ‘We are in the season of garden eggs and okra cultivation, so most cassava farmers are now fa
rming garden eggs and okra.’ 

 ‘This has made the supply of gari reduce leading to price increment,’ he said. 

 She noted that they had previously relied on senior high school students, who were compelled to purchase gari to support their school meals, but sales from that market was also dwindling. 

 The market survey found that the price of a 20kg blue bucket upped from GhS38 in May to GhS45 in June.  

The price of a-one kilogramme weight of gari (olonka) has also shot up from GhS35 to GhS40, while a margarine cup has increased from GhS5.00 to GhS6.00. 

 Madam Abena Mansah, a gari processor, in her 60s, noted that despite Ghana being a major producer of gari, the selling price continued to rise due to the increasing costs of other commodities.  

 ‘These days things are expensive, so we also have to increase the price of Gari. The firewood we buy to fry the milled cassava is expensive now.’  

 ‘Processing Gari is a tedious work to do and selling it at a cheaper price in this economic crisis where price
s of every commodity are on the increase will be a loss to us.’ 

 She appealed to the government to provide farmers with the necessary farming equipment, such as tractors and cutlasses, and farm supplies, particularly for cassava, at  subsidised rates to sustain gari production. 

Gari, a staple food made from cassava, has been a popular choice for many people in Ghana and beyond due to its affordability and ease of preparation.  

As one of the cheapest food products on the market, it is a common item purchased by students in boarding houses, households, and many institutions such as the prisons. 

From a nutritional perspective, research conducted by Adunga Bayata of the Jimma Agricultural Research Centre reveals that gari is a good source of carbohydrate, protein, calories, potassium, phosphorus, fiber, vitamin C, ash, and fat. 

Source: Ghana News Agency

Mbem’s Nkala’ah festival celebrates culture and athletics

The 2024 Nkala’ah festival in Cameroon’s Nwa subdivision, North West region, was a success, showcasing cultural traditions and featuring a well-organized Mini Majang Race.

Local athletes Gabsebuin Prophet and Bonwi Sidonie triumphed in the Mini Race’s male and female categories respectively. Attendees described the 2024 event as an ‘improved organization’ saying it was a stepping stone to revive the larger Mount Majang Race, previously a regional event featuring over 200 athletes.

Local leaders are collaborating to potentially relaunch the Mount Majang Race in November 2024, aiming for national participation. The race has been a training ground for past Mount Cameroon champions like Godlove Gabsebuin, highlighting its importance.

Prominent figures including the Sub Divisional Officer and the Mayor witnessed the Mini race’s success. This cultural celebration with a competitive edge is fostering community spirit.

Source: Cameroon News Agency