GHANA – Ghana Export-Import (EXIM) Bank has embarked on a GH¢ 30 million (US$3.2m) Coconut for Life project targeted at increasing the country’s coconut production.
Under the project, about one million nuts of the Sri Lankan Green Dwarf crossed to the Vanuatu Tall hybrid variety will be produced in the next five years, reports Ghanaian Times.
In addition, 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.
This is targeted at reversing the spread of Cape St. Paul’s Wiltsdisease which has destroyed more than 3,000 hectares of coconut trees in the Western Region and continue to ravage the coconut industry in coastal areas, depriving communities of their livelihoods and increasing poverty.
The Chief Executive Officer, EXIM Bank, Lawrence Agyinsam, said, “One major lesson learnt from our experiences in financing agro-based industrialisation efforts is that the development of the raw material base is essential. Many agro-based industries are struggling to operate at optimal capacities due to inadequacy of raw materials.
“We are determined to reverse this narrative by doing everything to remove the bottlenecks to properly reposition the coconut sub-sector for proper industrial transformation, employment and earn foreign exchange.”
Coconut production in Ghana has significantly increased over the past decades as the country produced 219,000 metric tonnes (MT) in 1985, 245,000 MT in 1995, 315 000 MT in 2005 380,000 MT in 2015, rising steadily to 412,000 MT in 2020.
These are cultivated in the coastal savanna and forest zones with annual production of 224 million nuts from an estimated area of 36,000 hectares with 80 percent of the coconut holdings owned by small and marginal holding farmers while the remaining 20 percent owned by farming organisations.
Production has been increasing concurrently with rise in price as in 2007 according to Mr Agyinsam, the price of one fresh young coconut was as low as 20Gp, increasing to 60GP in 2011, and now sold between GH¢2.5 and GH¢3.00 depending on the size.
Meanwhile, the cost of production had remained stable over the eight-year period except the cost of transporting the nuts from rural farms to urban centres.
This astronomical increase in price has been fuelled by an urban populace that has become increasingly aware of the nutritional and health benefits of the coconut.
“The booming domestic and foreign market coupled with the favourable soil and climatic conditions make coconut production a major go-to commodity in the government’s target to rake in US$25 billion annually from non-traditional exports,” said Mr Agyinsam
“This potential is however, challenged by a devastation lethal yellowing disease known as Cape Saint Paul Wilts. This epidemic which began around Cape Saint Paul in Woe near Keta destroyed thousands of coconut palms and caused the collapse of the coconut industry in the Volta Region by mid 1950s. Hence the “Coconut for Life project,” he stated.
Ghana’s agricultural sector contributed US$476 million to total non-traditional export (NTE) earnings last year.
According to data released by the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), this stands for 14.29 per cent of the NTE earnings in the year under review.
The amount also represents an increase of 9.93 per cent over the US$433.02 million earned in 2020.