Government through the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) has started the free distribution of coconut seedlings to farmers as part of efforts to increase the production and export of the fruit.
However, the farmers who are mostly from the Western Region say that they do not receive the free seedlings because some Agric officers tasked to distribute the seedlings hoard them and sell them to farmers at half the market price.
“We hear seedlings have been given out. They have been donated towards expanding our farms to increase yield. But the seedlings never get to farmers. Some people keep them and sell them to us at half price. It is really a challenge because the seedlings are expensive making it difficult for us to expand our farms,” one of the farmers told Accra-based Citi FM.
The market price for one seedling is GH¢10.
“I don’t know anything about the distribution, there is no information. In the beginning, we searched for some but never got. We went to the Agric offices at Amasaman, Nsawam etc, but there were none. So eventually, we had to buy at the roadside,” another farmer lamented.
There are currently about 45,000 acres of coconut farms across the country, most of which is in the Western Region with a few acres in the Eastern and Brong Ahafo regions.
Meanwhile, the African Coconut Group believes effective collaboration between GEPA and farmer associations can help solve the problem.
The Chairman of the group Davies Koboe said “we have Associations, so we must ensure that the Associations get the seedlings and do the distribution to members. We must also ensure that we have a database of the farmers so that we can trace to know how many seedlings they need.”
Meanwhile, GEPA says it has already taken some steps to solve the issue by halting the distribution process to correct the problem.