The decision to end the Cocoa Road Programme, which aimed to address transportation challenges for cocoa farmers, comes as a result of negotiations with the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The initiative was designed to improve the transportation of agro-inputs to cocoa farmers and the evacuation of cocoa beans to Take Over Centres.
However, speaking at the 50th Anniversary Celebration symposium of the Cocoa Clinic, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, the Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, revealed that the EU and the IMF have advised the organization to focus on its core functions.
“The EU sent a team last year to do due diligence on sustainable production and when they came, they wanted to know why COCOBOD was involved in cocoa roads construction because it is not a core business of COCOBOD and they insisted that we take that venture out of our equation and of course, the IMF is also saying the same thing. They say that we can continue with what we are currently constructing and not start new ones,” Aidoo stated.
In light of this policy change, COCOBOD has shifted its focus toward enhancing healthcare access for cocoa farmers. Aidoo announced plans to establish health centres in various cocoa-growing communities to address the lack of convenient healthcare services for farmers.
Reflecting on the challenges faced by cocoa farmers, Aidoo shared a poignant example: “I have had the experience where a woman who was in labour and couldn't deliver had to be carried in a hammock and travelled over 28 kilometres and couldn't survive. When we look at the countryside to see how our cocoa farmers struggle to access health delivery, we will be touched to do something, and that is why as an institution, it is important to bring health services and facilities as closer to these farmers as possible.”