Ghana’s only organic cocoa buying company, Yayra Glover, has made it to the white house as it supplies the Swiss company Fechlin the chocolate producing company for the first family of the United States of America.
While Ghana earns 200 hundred dollars extra per tonne for its cocoa as a result of proper treatment, the organic cocoa company gets 600 dollars more for its exports.
Farmers who engage in organic cocoa growing in Suhum get to be paid 35 Ghana cedis extra per bag. A bag of cocoa is currently at 475 Ghana cedis per bag and the organic cocoa farmers earn up to 510 Ghana cedis per bag.
Established in 2007 as the only organic LBC in the country with concentration in the Eastern and Volta regions of Ghana, Yayra Glover, got an initial seed money from the Swiss Government to the tune of 600,000 euros to start the purely organic cocoa purchasing company in Ghana.
With an initial farmer base of less than 500, Yayra Glover now gets its cocoa beans from 5420 farmers in the Eastern Region (Ekosi Osiem – 1563, Suhum – 1272, Suhum UTZ – 855) and Volta region – 1730.
A cocoa farm can be classified as organic if growers cease to apply fertilizer to their farms in three years. The cocoa is further tested in Ghana and Switzerland for chemicals before it is certified to be organic.
Ghana exports less than 1000 tonnes of organic cocoa a year through Yayra Glover (YGL). Extension services have so far been given to 2000 young extension officers to help farmers stay organic.
The Chief Executive Officer, Yayra Glover told JoyBusiness “several farmers are in danger using chemicals to spray weeds and artificial fertilizers are dangerous to the health of farmers”.
He said, “So far we imported AgroPy5EW from Rwanda for farmers which is an organic fertilizer, but my question is, why can’t we produce this fertilizer here in Ghana to encourage more organic farming, remember we are the world number two producer and our cocoa beans are well sought after. Cocoabod will have to up their game.”
Using fertilizers are killing animals and organisms that has to be in the ecosystem and fresh vegetables like Kontomre can’t grow in cocoa farms anymore.
Over aged trees and farmers
Over aged trees have been one of Ghana’s biggest challenge in producing more cocoa beans, this resulted in the growing of free seedlings for farmers to gradually replace their trees.
The 60 million seedlings produced by the COCOABOD IN 2016 is expected to have 1,200 new seedlings on every hectare. While there is a deliberate attempt to change old trees, farmers fear the same cannot be told of the human resource.
“We are over aged and our children are not interested in farming our fear is when we are no more it will be difficult to find farmers. This will affect Ghana’s economy, the roads are bad ,the incentives are not good enough for these young ones who have so much exposure now owing to the digital age” one farmer laments.
In this picture farmers are asked to raise their hands if their children get cocoa scholarships or ever had one and none raised their hands. Farmers bemoaned their children don’t usually qualify due to low grades from rural schools.
Maame Esther added “farmers must be given a quota to really benefit from the cocoa scholarship, we hardly even hear of it till the deadline is over. In this village no one has ever qualified, so I want to ask who really gets the scholarship and are they farmers?
Cocoa farmers in Suhum have asked government to rethink its decision on the nonpayment of bonuses. They said it will affect revenue in the long run because they may not be able to produce more this year.
Ghana has failed to hit its landmark one million tonnes of cocoa since the target was set. The target for this year has been reduced to 850 thousand tonnes and indications are that, this target will also not be met.