Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has disclosed that an amount of GH¢ 10.311 million has been paid to 11,289 cocoa farmers in the ongoing rehabilitation of over-aged cocoa farms.
The rehabilitation entails treatment and replanting of cocoa trees affected by the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease (CSSVD).
According to him, COCOBOD has covered a total of 22,375.25 hectares of cocoa farms under the rehabilitation programme in the current year.
The Minister disclosed this in Parliament when he attended to the House to respond to a question by the MP for Amenfi West Eric Afful.
Hon. Afful sought to know when government will release money to pay the affected cocoa farmers whose farms have been affected by the programme.
Dr. Afriyie Akoto disclosed that COCOBOD has targeted 91,400 hectares of diseased cocoa farms with financing from the African Development Bank and Credit Suissse (AfDB/Cs) facility.
He stated 418 landowners with a total land size 454.48 hectares of cocoa farms have also been compensated with an amount of GH¢454,480.00
“Processes are still underway to pay additional landowners in due course,” he said.
The Minister acknowledged that delay in payment of compensation to farms under the rehabilitation programme engender mistrust.
“As well, this could adversely affect programme implementation, and the sustenance of the cocoa industry.”
“Mindful of this, the Ministry is committed to ensuring that payment of compensations are on time; and made to deserving farmer,” he added.
Dr. Akoto Afriyie explained that for purposes of transparency and proper scrutiny to determine eligibility and proper application of the (AfD6/CS) facility, affected farmers have been briefed about the necessary processes precedent for paying the benefits and these include measurement of treated farms at the District level with GPS to establish farm areas affected for rehabilitation and verification at the District cartography department to ensure farm is within a Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease outbreak CSSVD area and several others.
Responding to another question from MP for Buem, Iddie Kofi Adams on timely payment for purchased cocoa beans, the Minister noted that the emergence and prevalence of the COVID-19 pandemic adversely affected COCOBOD efforts to effectively roll out its strategy for managing the loan facility contracted for the 2019/20 season.
“The pandemic also made it difficult for COCOBOD to effect contract for drawing down the loan facility expeditiously.”
“Management of COCOBOD is building an internal revolving fund that will be used to support cocoa purchasing operations to supplement draw downs of the syndicated loan,” he stated.
He averred that Ministry will continue to work closely with COCOBOD and exercise effective oversight on the sector to ensure a very responsive, attractive and resilient cocoa sector.