Ho — THE chairman of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), Professor Stephen Adei has highlighted the need for an all-inclusive training in literacy, numeracy and basic business and financial skills for cocoa farmers to enable them to manage their farming business professionally and successfully.
“This needs to be done at multiple levels because even graduates who decide to venture into cocoa farming will need training on the business of cocoa farming”, he insisted.
Professor Adei was speaking at Maso Youth in Cocoa Conference 2019 in Ho on Wednesday, in collaboration with Solidaridad.
About 80 beneficiaries of Maso participated in the conference which was under the theme: Professionalising Cocoa Farming: The Role of the Youth.
Maso is a five-year programme focused on creating employment opportunities for the youth, aged 18-25 in the country’s cocoa communities.
Professor Adei noted that the difficulty in accessing land was putting off a lot of young people who wanted to take up cocoa farming, as they had no collateral.
He said that there was an urgent need for innovative financing for agriculture, adding that, “in a country where interest rates can run up to 30 per cent for businesses, especially for ventures as risky as in agriculture, cocoa farmers cannot rely on existing financial schemes”.
He lauded Maso for its comprehensive initiative and holistic approach to provide agronomic training, build the entrepreneurial acumen and provide some leverage through a proof-of-concept grant scheme to help young people to exploit the opportunities within their local communities along the coco value chain.
“The is more room for more players to get into this space by ensuring that the capacity of young people is developed to be able to take advantage of opportunities they are exposed to” Professor Adei told the gathering.
Earlier, Dr Mrs Esther Anim Kwapong of the Seed Production Division (SPD) of COCOBOD said that the division had a total of 800 hectares of seed gardens, having renovated 27 of such facilities at various locations in the country, in the past four years.
She revealed that the SPD would produce 78 million cocoa seedlings for distribution to farmers in 2019/20.
Dr Esther Anim Kwapong said that there were highly bright prospects for cocoa seeds production, adding that the department produced 4million usable seed pods yearly for cocoa farmers.
The event was chaired by Togbe Akpabei I, chief of Dodome-Teleafenu.