A delegation from the Hershey Company, producers of quality chocolate in North America and students of Milton Hershey School, would visit Ghana in 2016 to interact with cocoa farmers in Assin Sienchem in the Central Region.
The visit would afford the students of the philanthropic school in Pennsylvania to learn at first-hand the operations of the farmers, support in planting shed trees, get understanding of the country’s culture and community and emerging issues important to Ghanaian farmers.
Dr Francis Baah, Executive Director of Cocoa Health and Extension Division, Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) told the Ghana News Agency in the Central Region that the delegation is scheduled to pay a working visit to the Assiman Young Cocoa Farmers Association in the Region.
Dr Baah noted that COCOBOD has a long standing relationship with the Hershey Company, which sources Ghana's cocoa as one of the best in terms of quality for its factory.
He said the Ghanaian delegation visited Milton Hershey School with a population of 2000 students two weeks ago.
The school was set up by the Hershey Company to support children from challenging homes and thought it prudent as an advance team to prepare for the upcoming visit slated for summer in 2016.
Mr Baah said for the past three years, the company has instituted a project called cocoa link, a public-private partnership that uses mobile technology to deliver timely farming, social and marketing information to local cocoa farmers to improve farming processes, income and livelihood.
The choice of Assin Seichem is because it has 14,000 vibrant young cocoa farmers in the district, cultivating more than 17,000 hectares.
The town also represents the new phase of cocoa farmers in future.
Responding to concerns about some farms not being measured, Dr Baah said the company is working to resolve the issue and some farmers were unavailable when the authorities came to the district for the measurement.
On the question of an increase in the cocoa producer price expressed by the farmers, Dr Baah said that would be determined by the producer price review committee before the beginning of the main crop season, adding that the road construction in the district funded by COCOBOD would be completed by the end of the year.
“The COCOBOD distributed 100,000 bags of cocoa fertilisers to the district more than enough to cover the area and boost their operations,” he said.
Mr Tim Wasielewski, Senior Director, Milton Hershey School, thanked COCOBOD for the warm hospitality and the opportunity to be in the country to further solidify mutual relations between the two countries.
He said the intended visit to Ghana would provide the students opportunities to understand the cocoa sector as well as familiarise themselves with international travel programmes.
Mr Theophilous Tamakloe, President of Young Cocoa Farmers Association, commended COCOBOD for the initiative, adding that the interaction would broaden engagement between the two countries in improving the country’s cocoa industry.
He asked authorities to do well to complete the roads leading to the district on time and also resolve the impasse of unfair distribution of cocoa fertilisers among the farmers.
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