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‘Abrogate US$2bn COCOBOD Loan’
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Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Morton Farms, Nii Noi Morton, has called for the abrogation of the US$ 2 billion dollar syndicated loan approved by Parliament to finance the purchase of cocoa beans for the 2016/17 crop season.

Parliament of Ghana in June this year gave the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) the green light to go for a US$2 billion dollar syndicated loan to finance the purchase of cocoa beans for the 2016/17 crop season.

Mr. Morton contended that the cocoa farmer was an important stakeholder in the cocoa value chain and must therefore be well catered for.

He consequently called on Parliament to abrogate the loan facility or ensure that one billion out of the loan facility is set aside and shared among cocoa farmers, stressing that government must promote the welfare of cocoa farmers.

According to him, the monies requested by COCOBOD for 2016 were too much, because without the existence of the cocoa farmer, cocoa board cannot purchase cocoa beans on their behalf, hence cocoa farmers must be given one billion dollars out of the loan to better their lot.

He explained that considering the current situation where several Ghanaian cocoa farmers do not have access to inputs such as fertilizers which he alleged were being smuggled to other African countries, such monies should not have passed the approval test.

In an interview with Today on some of the challenges facing the cocoa sector, Mr. Morton said government must sit up and address those challenges.

According to him, government’s support to the industry was woefully inadequate, considering the huge capital needed to cultivate the crop.

Citing an example to buttress his case, he said his 235 acre cocoa farm at Sunyani Chira in the Brong Ahafo Region only received 7,000 cocoa seedlings and 180 pods which officials of cocoa board told him he should use for “Atojwe,” which literally means “start-up.”

He stated that if government does not consider the interest of the cocoa farmer and the long term benefit of doing the right thing now but continues to “shortchange’ the farmers, cocoa production will continue to decline.

He disclosed that plans were far-advanced by him to bring in an American company to construct a solar irrigation system on his 235 acre farm, which benefit, he said, will be immense “because the crop will no longer be seasonal but all year round.”

Mr. Morton also urged government to do same by supporting any cocoa farmer who owns between five or more acre farm plantation.

He also asked government to construct the road network from Sunyani Chira, specifically from Tetehkrom near the Tano River, which is in a very deplorable situation.

Mr. Morton also tasked government to revamp the cocoa industry to attract more youth into cocoa farming as the current crop of cocoa farmers in the country were ageing.

“There is the need therefore for the youth to be motivated to go into the sector to sustain the industry,” he submitted.
Source: Today Newspaper

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