ACCRA, The Ghanaian government will ensure the supply and distribution of fertilizers to cocoa farmers at a subsidised price of more than 50 per cent of the commodity’s open market cost through a public-private-partnership agreement, says an official with the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD).

Samuel Asare Ankamah, the board’s Deputy Brong-Ahafo Regional Manager for Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED), said at a meeting with farmers organized by the CHED at Danyame in Brong-Ahafo Region (Province) in central Ghana last Friday that subsidizing the price of fertilizer would help check the corruption characterising the delivery and distribution of the items in the sector and check its smuggling to neighbouring countries.

Ankamah said the measure was also to ensure fair and equitable distribution of fertilizer to farmers, make them accessible and prevent the unnecessary diversion of the items through stringent biometric registration procedures and processes.

He said the cocoa industry was currently facing challenges, which had significantly contributed to the inability of COCOBOD to meet production targets. The challenges included old cocoa trees, ageing farmers and reduction in mass spraying.

He said the new policy to boost production of cocoa involved formation of task forces at growing centres to take charge of delivery of chemicals for the mass spraying exercise, introduction of irrigation schemes for farmers and artificial pollination in cocoa-growing areas which is currently on-going.

Others measures under the policy included growing economic trees in cocoa farms to check cocoa trees dying during the dry season and engaging youth groups in cocoa farming.