Ghana: Export-Import Bank boosts coconut production
Alabokazo — The Ghana Export-Import (EXIM) Bank has embarked on a GH¢30 million “Coconut for Life” project aimed at increasing the country’s coconut production.
Under the project, 50,000 to one million Sri Lankan Green Dwarf nuts crossed with the Vanuatu Tall hybrid variety will be produced over the next five years.
Again, the project will support the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) – Oil Palm Research Institute (OPRI) to establish 120 hectares of coconut seed garden to produce at least one million nuts of the variety (SGD x VTT) per year by hybridization .
This aims to reverse the spread of Cape St. Paul’s Wiltsdisease which has destroyed more than 3,000 hectares of coconut palms in the Western Region and continues to ravage the coconut industry in coastal areas, depriving communities of their livelihoods and increasing poverty.
Managing Director, EXIM Bank, Lawrence Agyinsam disclosed in an address read for him, during the launch of the 2nd International Coconut Festival at Alabokazo in Ellembelle District of Western Region on the theme “Repositioning Ghana’s Coconut Sector for Accelerated Industrialization Agenda”.
The main event will take place in Accra from September 20-23.
He said CSIR-OPRI and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) and private operators would be contracted to produce the necessary seedlings from the nuts and sell them at reduced prices to farmers to help the country to overcome its major bottleneck in the coconut subsector. sector.
MrAgyinsam said that before the start of the project in four regions, the bank, through CSIR-OPRI and MoFA, would rehabilitate eight-hectare seed gardens in Menzezor and Bonsaso to ensure that at least 100,000 seeds nuts are available to farmers.
He added that the EXIM Bank would work closely with GEPA, CSIR-OPRI and MoFA and the Coconut Producers and Exporters Association, to ensure that the deliverables are met.
Meanwhile, the bank, he said, had supported the establishment of a coconut processing factory in Takoradi.
“With an interest in the efficient operation of all parts of the value chain, EXIM Bank, in collaboration with GEPA, would explore export market opportunities for local producers,” Mr. Agyinsam said.
He said: “One of the key lessons from our experiences in funding agribusiness industrialization efforts is that developing the commodity base is critical. Many agribusinesses struggle to operate at optimal capacities due to insufficient raw materials”.
“We are determined to reverse this narrative by doing everything to remove bottlenecks to properly reposition the coconut sub-sector for proper industrial processing, employment and earning foreign exchange,” he said. he declares.
Coconut production in Ghana, he noted, has increased significantly over the past decades, with the country producing 219,000 metric tons (MT) in 1985, 245,000 MT in 1995, 315,000 MT in 2005, 380,000 MT in 2015 and regularly at 412,000 MT in 2020.
These are grown in coastal savannah and forest areas with an annual production of 224 million nuts from an estimated area of 36,000 hectares and 80 percent of the coconut farms were owned by marginal smallholders, the remaining 20 percent owned by agricultural organizations.
In 2007, he said, the price of a fresh young coconut was as low as 20Gp, rising to 60GP in 2011, and now selling for between GH¢2.5 and GH¢3.00 depending on size. .
Meanwhile, the cost of production remained stable over the eight-year period, with the exception of the cost of transporting nuts from rural farms to urban centers.
This astronomical price increase has fueled demand from an urban population who have become increasingly aware of the nutritional and health benefits of coconut, Mr Agyinsam said.
“The booming domestic and overseas market, coupled with favorable soil and climatic conditions, make coconut production a key commodity in the government’s goal of raising $25 billion a year from non-traditional exports. “, did he declare.
“This potential is however challenged by a devastating lethal yellows disease known as Cape Saint Paul Wilts. This outbreak which started around Cape Saint Paul in Woe near Keta destroyed thousands of coconut trees and caused the collapse of the coconut industry in the Volta region in the mid-1950s. Hence the “Coconut for Life” project.