The Ghana Agricultural and Rural Development Journalists Association (GARDJA) has launched a new cocoa advocacy initiative aimed at helping create a sustainable cocoa value chain in Ghana.
In collaboration with various cocoa farmer-based organisations and other stakeholders, GARDJA said the initiative will draw attention to pertinent issues militating against the development of the cocoa sector including poor farmgate pricing, challenges with accessing inputs including fertilisers and pesticides, the negative impact of climate change on cocoa production, child labour on farms, among others.
GARDJA, in a statement, noted that it is concerned that the full potential of the cocoa crop is not being harnessed.
“There is, therefore, the need for government, non-governmental organisations, as well as other actors in the sector to up their game, introduce better policies in the industry, implement them and inject more resources to help keep the sector afloat,” the statement said.
The cocoa advocacy initiative, according to GARDJA will involve series of media campaigns as well as capacity building initiatives for the media and for cocoa producers between now and the end of the year.
“It will ensure that the Ghanaian public has access to more and better investigative reports on cocoa sustainability issues. It will also ensure media houses help create the required platform for an informed public debate on cocoa sustainability issues in Ghana,” GARDJA noted.
“Cocoa plays an important role in Ghana’s development. Proceeds from the crop have been used to shore up the Ghanaian economy, pay for road infrastructure, pay for education, pay for the construction of health facilities among others to help with the development of the country. More needs to be done for the benefit of farmers who grow this golden crop. For example, the Ghana COCOBOD Law, 1984 (PNDC Law 81) states that ‘the Board shall within one year after the coming into force of this law establish a contributory insurance scheme for cocoa, coffee and shea nut farmers within the framework of the Social Security Scheme.’ It’s sad that 36 years on, this law remains only on paper without it being implemented,” GARDJA bemoaned.
“The law is also emphatic that ‘the board shall establish a fund to be known as Farmers’ Welfare Fund which will be funded with 10% of COCOBOD’s net profit every year to be used to among others, develop farming communities and provide welfare loans to farmers.’ What is COCOBOD waiting for before it sets up this fund? These are challenges needing attention and this initiative will give them that attention,” the statement added.