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General News
Cocoa farmers pledge to stop smuggling 8/16/2007
Baglo-Odumase (V/R), Aug 16,GNA- Over 200 Cocoa farmers along the country''s eastern frontier with the Republic of Togo have resolved to stop the smuggling of the commodity in the area.

The farmers from Baglo-Odumase, Baglo-Buem, Kute and Ayoma made this declaration at a one-day outreach programme to sensitise cocoa farmers on scientific techniques in the treatment of swollen shoot disease at Baglo-Odumase in the Jasikan district on Wednesday. The programme was organized by the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease Control Unit (CSSVDCU) of the Cocoa Board.

They contended that the quest to meet their financial obligations and responsibilities forced them to engage in the smuggling activities and pledged to turn a new leaf.

Speaking to the participants, Mr Attah Barfi Boateng, Deputy Volta Regional Manager of the CSSVDCU stressed that a holistic destruction of the disease by uprooting affected trees and subsequent replanting was the guarantee for the future and sustenance of the cocoa industry. He called on major stakeholders including agencies and farmers to coordinate their programmes and policies towards the eradication of the disease and urged them to embrace the new scientific techniques in Cocoa farming.

Mr Boateng who likened the viral disease to that of HIV/AIDS said it was highly infectious with long gestation period and in some cases leading to "stem elephantiasis" which affects the roots. He said by government policy, a hectare or 2.5 acres of an infected cocoa farm attracted a treatment and replanting grants of GHC 408. The Deputy Regional Manager said the affected trees were usually replanted with high yielding and drought resistant hybrid seedlings with shorter maturity periods between two-and-half to three years, which could be intercropped with plantain, cocoyam and maize. Mr Boateng said unlike other cocoa diseases such as capsids and black pod, CSSVD could only be eradicated by uprooting the entire tree, adding that, only consented and concerted efforts could facilitate its eradication.

Mr Osam-Dade Okwan, Volta Regional Quality Control Officer announced that the region lost 35 percent of the over one thousand tons of cocoa from produced in 2006 to poor fermentation procedures resulting in "purple beans".

He said this is contrary to the region''s 1,000 tons of the commodity to the national haul, which was declared the best in the country in 2005.

He advised cocoa farmers to stop smuggling the commodity into Togo, since such nefarious activities was enriching that country at the expense of Ghana, which they turn to for shelter, health and education among others.

Mr Philemon Ankah, representative of the Produce Buying Company (PBC) assured the farmers that PBC had employed pragmatic measures to facilitate the purchase of cocoa all-year-round and that their toil would be adequately rewarded.

He urged the farmers to take advantage of the Cocoa Board Scholarship, which is dependent on the number of sales one makes, to educate their children, rather than smuggling across the border.Source:

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