Ghana is a major producer of cocoa in the world and relies heavily on the crop for foreign exchange revenue. However, production declined since the mid-1960s, reaching its lowest level in 1983 (159,000 tons). Although production has increased consistently since the mid-1980s, it is still less than the level attained in the mid-1960s (450,000 tons). The decline is partly a result of decreasing areas under cultivation. Another problem in cocoa production in Ghana is low yields, which is attributed to the incidence of pests and diseases, a low producer price, and non-adoption of research recommendations.
Based on the idea that current research and extension messages might insufficiently address farmers’ actual problems in context, a diagnostic study was carried out to better understand farmers’ views on the problems of cocoa production. The study was conducted in three villages in the Suhum-Kraboa-Coalter District, Eastern Region, Ghana. An action research approach was followed to gather and analyse qualitative data with the objective of stimulating collective action in subsequent research activities with the farmers. Low productivity was identified as the main problem and the causes were classified into biological and socioeconomic factors.
The biological factors include the incidence of pests and diseases, most of which have received extensive research attention in Ghana. Cocoa in Ghana has not been an unmitigated success. It has gone through cycles influenced by policies but these ups and downs offer interesting lessons.
Ghana’s cocoa sector faces a number of challenges: productivity levels are lower than in other countries; the quality advantage may disappear over the years; cocoa needs to remain competitive as cocoa households change; and the environmental impact of current farming practices will soon constraint further production expansion. Ghana produced a little over 700,000 metric tons in 2014/15. There is more to be desired because her neighbor, La Cote d’Ivoire under the same cultivated farmland size produces about 1.6 million metric tons per annum.
President Akufo Addo demonstrated his commitment to improving Ghana’s indigenous production Industry by announcing policies aimed at mobilizing support for made in Ghana goods, indeed one unique legacy the NPP government intends achieving is the yet to be established factories in the various regions of Ghana as captured in the Party’s manifesto ahead of the 2016 elections.
The two key lessons that emerge from Ghana’s cocoa experience relate to macro management and the role that the State needs to play. The need for appropriate policies and the role that the private sector can potentially play in improving the efficiency of marketing made in Ghana Cocoa which has arguably been internationally recognized as one of the world’s best raw materials in the production of chocolate products and confectionaries.
Government and stakeholders involved in Ghana’s Cocoa production need to make a concerted effort aimed at enhancing and improving production, packaging and branding of Ghana’s cocoa in order to guarantee ready markets and value for money in the value chain.
BY ABDALLAH MOHAMMED