We won’t Neglect Agric because of Oil – Nana Addo
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said the government will not allow the agricultural sector to collapse under his watch because of the discovery and the commercial production of oil and gas.
He said even though Ghana was currently an oil producing country and the contribution of the oil and gas sector to the economy was enormous, “it will not be under my watch that Ghana will be struck by the Dutch disease”.
The Dutch disease is a phenomenon in which the discovery of resources such as oil in a country leads to the situation where that country virtually ignores the development of other sectors of the economy.
President Nana Akufo-Addo was speaking at the celebration of the World Cocoa Day and the 70th anniversary of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) in Kumasi on Monday.
World Cocoa Day is celebrated on October 1, but this year’s event was rescheduled for October 2 to coincide with the 70th anniversary of COCOBOD.
The theme for the event was: “70 years on: Mobilising for a sustainable cocoa economy.”
The President reiterated the government’s commitment to improving the agricultural sector and the welfare of farmers, particularly those in the cocoa industry whose contribution to the economy could not be overemphasised.
He paid tribute to Ghanaian cocoa farmers for their contribution to the growth of the local economy, adding, however, that in spite of their contribution to the economy, cocoa farmers now could not be compared with their forebears who were among the richest people in Ghana years ago because of the current volatility of the price of the produce on the world market.
He said although the price of the commodity had fallen on the world market, the government was not going to review the producer price downwards.
President Akufo-Addo said even though Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire produced 60 per cent of the world’s cocoa, both countries earned less than six per cent of the total value of cocoa products in 2015.
He said in 2015, the total value of chocolate produced was $100 billion, while Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire earned $2 billion and $3 billion, respectively, from cocoa exports.
He said the time had come for the two countries to start adding value to the crop and embarking on a campaign to encourage local consumption of cocoa.
The President said local consumption of cocoa was the only way to raise the value of the commodity to ensure that farmers got fair returns on their investment.
The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, who was the Chairman for the occasion, reiterated a call he had made over a decade ago for Ghana to increase the consumption of cocoa by ensuring that schoolchildren were made to consume a cocoa drink a day.
He said the mistake the country made with its gold by exporting it in its raw state until the collapse of the Obuasi Mine should not be repeated with the cocoa industry.
The Asantehene said it was high time the country found a way of adding value to its commodities and consuming them locally.
He was grateful to the organisers for selecting Kumasi to host the event, adding that the Ashanti Region was the third largest cocoa producer in the country and that cocoa had significantly impacted the economy of the country.
The Chief Executive of the COCOBOD, Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, also commended cocoa farmers for their contribution to the sustenance of the economy.
He said on the average, other countries harvested between 2,500 and 3,000 kilogrammes of cocoa per hectare, while Ghanaian farmers harvested, on the average, 450 kilogrammes per hectare.
He said apart from the mass cocoa spraying exercise, the next national best cocoa farmer would be given a solar-panelled home to wean him or her off the national electricity grid.