WEST AFRICA – Solidaridad, an international non-governmental organisation, has launched two projects to boost cocoa and palm oil production in the West Africa region at an investment worth US$34.82 million.

According to a Ghana News Agency report, the Cocoa Rehabilitation and Intensification Programme (CORIP) and Sustainable West Africa Palm Oil Programmes (SWAPP) will be implemented in Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

The five year projects aim at increasing the efficiency and productivity both at primary production and processing levels of the two commodities.

Both projects have been funded by the Kingdom of Netherlands to the tune of US$30.33 million and the Swiss government through the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs providing the remaining US$4.49 million.

The projects will be running in their second phase of implementation with the overall objective of improving productivity in the cocoa and oil palm industries to increase the incomes and improve the livelihoods of farmers in the two sectors.

The investment is also expected to introduce farmers in the two sectors to good management and agronomic practices as well as enhance their skills to improve their farm business.

Speaking at the launch of the projects in Ghana, Mr Kennedy Osei Nyarko, the Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, maintained that there was a need of to promote good agronomic practices to improve productivity in the cocoa and oil palm sectors.

He said the agriculture sector remains the backbone of the economy and government would continue to create the enabling environment for the sector to thrive amid the ever increasing population.

According to Mr Nyarko, the Ghana Tree Crop Development Authority would soon be established to build a vibrant tree crop sector, saying stakeholders had validated the Draft Bill.

Mr Nyarko called on players in the finance industry to support the farmers by providing finance, mentoring and coaching in the cocoa and oil palm sectors.

Additionally, Mr Isaac Gyamfi, the Regional Director for Solidaridad West Africa, called for a strong service delivery for players in the cocoa and oil palms sectors and investments in modern technologies in order to improve productivity of the sector.

Ron Strikker, the Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana, said the cocoa and palm oil sectors were critical to Ghana’s economy, and hence Netherlands -as the largest importer of cocoa and palm oil- was supporting the two initiatives to build a vibrant cocoa and oil palm sectors.

He said the Netherlands by 2025 would not import cocoa and oil palm which were not produced sustainably and whose source could also not be traced.

Mr Mathias Feldmann, the Charge d’ Affaires of the Swiss Embassy for Ghana, Benin and Togo, said the projects would help address the constraints being faced by the farmers in cocoa and oil palm sectors.