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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Pay Cocoa Farmers Attractive Price - Prez Mills

President John Evans Atta Mills has directed Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) to come out with attractive cocoa producer price to encourage farmers to increase production.

A tonne of cocoa currently sells at GH¢1,632.

Inaugurating a 30,000-tonne a year capacity state-of-the-art cocoa processing plant in Kumasi on Friday, President Mills said the Board should also ensure that fertilizers are supplied to the farmers in good time to maximize crop yield.

"It is time COCOBOD came out with bold and innovative measures to support the nation's hardworking farmers," he said.

The plant is the third processing facility in the country and is owned by Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM), which has other cocoa processing and manufacturing factories in Europe and America.

President Mills commended the previous Government for initiating the process for the establishment of the factory and said the plant's inauguration would not only add value to the country's cocoa but also help to create job opportunities for the people.

His Administration, he said, is committed to encouraging direct foreign investment, and that the Government would remain focused in making sure that the necessary interventions were made to promote investment flow.

President Mills said the Company's presence fed into the Government's agenda of job creation and investing in the people.

Madam Hannah Tetteh, Minister of Trade and Industry, spoke of the Government's determination to sustain investor confidence in the national economy, adding that, efforts were being made to address the challenges industries were facing, especially, those operating in the Free Zones to enhance efficiency.

Ghana needs to sustain cocoa production to provide enough raw materials for industries in the sector, she said and appealed to the Management of ADM to consider venturing into other areas like Soya bean processing in the northern parts of the country to improve the incomes and living conditions of the farmers.

The Akyempimhene, Oheneba Adusei Poku, who represented the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, said the establishment of the plant had put Kumasi on the map of ADM, which was one of the world's renowned chocolate and confectionery producers and commended the Management of the Company for the decision.

He noted that the factory would encourage cocoa farmers to increase output and thereby improve their living standards and urged the Company to provide support to cocoa farmers by way of inputs supply.

Oheneba Adusei Poku asked the Company to take cognizance of the rich culture and heritage of the Asante Kingdom and to accord respect for cherished values and traditions of the people.

The Akyempimhene appealed to the Government to give serious consideration to the re-activation of some abandoned industries in the Ashanti Region to help to create jobs for the youth.

Mr Tony Fofie, Chief Executive of COCOBOD, said the Board was poised to diversify the cocoa sector to promote the processing of the cocoa beans locally for export and domestic consumption.

It has targeted to process about 60 per cent of cocoa beans locally.

He asked cocoa processing companies to go beyond the intermediate processing to the tertiary level to enable the country to derive maximum benefits from their operations.

Mr Fofie said COCOBOD would work to increase cocoa production without compromising on quality.

Mr John D. Rice, Executive Vice President, Commercial and Production of ADM, said the new plant would enhance the ability of the Company to source high quality cocoa beans from Ghana and position the Company to become the preferred global supplier of cocoa and chocolate solutions.

He said the Company would initiate programmes with other partners to promote the welfare of Ghanaian cocoa farmers.

Mr Kofi Opoku Manu, Ashanti Regional Minister, expressed the appreciation of the chiefs and people to the Company and expressed the hope that it would live up to its social responsibilities and work to support the people in the Region in their socio-economic endeavours.
Source: GNA

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