Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Cocoa farming and other cash crops

Which other cash crops farmers grow or think about?

80% of our randomly surveyed 90 cocoa farmers in 10 communities of Asamankese district of eastern Ghana grow at least one other cash crop.

Mostly they grow oil palm, some grow orange, some others grow vegetables such as pepper, and only one in 90 said that he recently planted rubber. One more farmer said he grows coconuts. There were farmers who grow several of these crops together.

In our questionnaire, we had these questions to see if the reason why they did not replant aged cocoa farms with new cocoa plants was their preference to other crops. Although, this was not our main research problem we still were very curious and asked ''off-survey'' questions to some of them and also visited nearby rubber plantation and the company which manages the rubber estate.

Farmers still believe in cocoa as being their main crop but this confidence seems to largely be dependent on special attention which cocoa industry is receiving from the Government of Ghana and from global chocolate industry. Sometimes, while talking with farmers on this issue you get the feeling that it's on the life support and you ask what would happen if government and industry were to stop all those programs such as extension services, training, research, breeding and seed production units, subsidized spraying and fertilizer schemes etc. In each district of Ghana, there is local branch of Cocobod with office, staff and vehicles. Farmers view it as a strong signal and they think that this support will never stop.

On the other hand, being constantly on life-support makes them to expect more and more. In parallel, they say that other cash crop interest groups also provide some support to ''their'' farmers such as equipment to extract oil from oil palm, outgrowing schemes for planting rubber etc. 

The video below shows how cocoa farmer mentions these moments and expects something to be responded by his stakeholders [cocoa] side:

However, the same farmer also explained why he is not so attracted to alternative cash crops. Main reason is lack of confidence in stability of output markets especially in ''new'' crops. He gives example of sunflowers. There was a time when sunflower growing was extensively marketed to growers and many of them planted but there were not enough buyers or price was not sufficient and farmers lost confidence in sunflower. Watch the next video:

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