Sixty thousand cocoa farmers are to receive financial and management support to increase productivity and help the country meet the annual production target of one million tonnes of cocoa.
Under the arrangement, the farmers will receive interest-free loans from a team of financial institutions to procure fertilisers, pesticides and other inputs.
A team of experts will also provide management services in pruning, fertiliser and pesticide application to the beneficiary farmers, while scouts will be trained to provide labour on the farms.
The Conservation Alliance International (CA) and its partners launched the scheme known as Boame Cocoa Scheme (BCS) in Kumasi on September 6, 2018.
Briefing the Daily Graphic on the scheme in Accra last Friday, the Executive Director of CA, Dr Yaw Osei, said the farmers would be made to pay back the loan, which would cover the cost of inputs and management, after the harvest and sale of their cocoa.
He added that between 180,000 and 300,000 hectares of cocoa farms across the country would benefit from the scheme by 2020.
Dr Osei stated further that Cerath Investments was the lead institution providing the interest-free loans while Biodiversity Heritage Associates was providing the management services.
“The scheme is an incentive mechanism to help farmers to improve upon the management of their cocoa farms to enhance productivity, ecological health of cocoa farms and household incomes,” he explained.
Dr Osei said the main challenge confronting the cocoa sector was the poor management of more than 30 per cent of the 1.9 million hectares of the country’s cocoa production landscape.
He attributed the poor management of cocoa farms to multiple factors, including inadequate farm labour, high cost of inputs, ageing farmers, inherited farms and the indulgence in multiple enterprises by women cocoa farmers.
He said the Boame Cocoa Scheme was, therefore, instituted to address the challenges of inefficient management of cocoa farms.
The farmers, he indicated, would be made to pay back the loan after the harvest and sale of their cocoa.
The loan would cover the cost of inputs and management.
Dr Osei said the scheme had been categorised into two components, namely full and partial management services and explained that under the partial scheme, CA and its partners would only provide management services to farmers after the assessment of their needs but the farmers would continue to be in charge of their farms.
He said with the full scheme, CA and its partners would take over a farm and manage it until harvest.
After harvesting the crop, the farm would be returned to its owner, who would be required to service the loan from the sale of the cocoa beans.
Dr Osei said 100 young men and women had so far been engaged as scouts to work under the direct supervision of CA to work on cocoa farms.