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President Mahama announces incentive package for cocoa farmers   
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President John Dramani Mahama on Friday announced a number of incentives for cocoa farmers to inspire them to step up production in the coming years.

He said:"Apart from the on-going free fertilizers and spraying exercises, government is also providing free 50 million hybrid seedlings and solid extension services to the farmers."

President John Dramani Mahama said this when he inaugurated the Touton Cocoa Processing Company in Tema, in the Greater Accra Region.

Touton Cocoa Processing Company, which started buying cocoa from Ghana since 1988, currently has a working staff of 150 people with the view to leveraging employment opportunities among the Ghanaian youth.

President Mahama said government had also earmarked $2 million dollars for the construction of well-equipped basic schools in deprived cocoa growing communities with libraries, boreholes and other amenities to keep the children in school on sustainable basis.

He said contractors had also moved to various sites to embark on the construction of feeder roads in cocoa growing communities at a total cost of $150 million dollars.

President Mahama said government had directed the COCOBOD to acquire pieces of land to engage the youth in cocoa farming as a way of sustaining the growth of the commodity.

The President urged investors to increase their investment in Ghana, as they had the potential of serving over 300 million people in the West African sub-region.

Mr Stephen Opuni, the Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, said the establishment of more cocoa processing companies in Ghana was in line with government's determination to add value to raw materials for export.

He gave the assurance that COCOBOD would ensure that high quality seeds are produced to satisfy the demands of companies engaging in processing in the country.

The COCOBOD CEO explained that as a motivation to farmers, government had stepped up the provision of free fertilizers, cocoa spraying programmes, hybrid cocoa seeds and free extension services.

He encouraged other investors to add more value to cocoa by going into the production of chocolates, cocoa drinks and other confectioneries.

Mr Frederic Clavier, French Ambassador to Ghana expressed satisfaction that more French investors were doing business in Ghana.

France is investing $1.2 billion dollars on bilateral trade between France and Ghana and gave the assurance that more would be achieved in the coming years.

He said the visit of a French Business delegation was an indication of the confidence the French business community had in the West African country and called on Ghanaian businesses to take advantage of it and partner them.

Mr Clavier said although cocoa was a strategic commodity for the Ghanaian economy, the French government and others would continue to partner the Ghana government to support smallholder farmers in Ghana.

Mr Patrick de Boussac, the Chief Executive Officer of Touton Cocoa Processing Company, said Ghana was a suitable for business because its political stability and encouraged others to invest in Ghana.

He expressed the hope that the company would grow to become one of the biggest cocoa processing companies in the West African sub-region.
Source: GNA

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