The World Bank is set to invest $300 million in Ghana's cocoa industry to shore up production of the crop over the next five years, a Senior World Bank Agricultural Economist, Amos Gyau has announced.
Under the Cocoa Sector Value Chain Project, the initiative is to increase productivity levels of cocoa farmers as well as promote value addition.
Dr Gyau disclosed this at the launch of the sixth Institute of Economic and Financial Journalists (IFEJ)awards dubbed the 'Flamingo Awards,' which seeks to recognise the achievement and contribution of business and financial journalism practice in the country.
This year's award which is on the theme, 'Towards agribusiness and sustainable development goals', and opens from now till September 12, 2019, covered stories and articles written by members in good standing of IFEF from July 1,2018 to June 30, 2019.
The award categories include agribusiness, finance, manufacturing, Information Communication Technology, tourism, development, and local economy.
Dr Gyau explained that the government had approached the World Bank to support the country to increase her cocoa production and thus the World Bank and government as well as Cocoa Board was discussing the modalities of the project.
He said the objective of the project was to help farmers increase their production levels from the current 300 kilogrammes per hectare to two tonnes per hectare over the period.
"The World Bank seeks to support the cocoa sector to double productivity in the next five years," the Senior Agricultural Economist said, saying this would be done through the provision of better seedlings and inputs to farmers, hand pollination and educating farmers on best agronomic practices.
Dr Gyau also intimated that the annual value of the world cocoa trade amounted to about $9 billion and only 7 per cent got to the cocoa producing countries because the cocoa produce was exported in its raw state to the world market, saying it was to reverse that the World Bank intends to finance the Cocoa Value Chain Project.
Dr Gyau also disclosed that the World Bank would soon implement the strengthening of agriculture education in the country to link agriculture to industry.
He commended IFEJ for the awards which sought to recognise journalists who had excelled in reporting on agribusiness, stressing that the sector needed more attention from journalists.
The Member of Parliament for Twifo Atti Morkwa Abraham Dwuma Odoom who launched the programme urged journalists to focus on reporting on agribusiness and its value chain.
He said agriculture held good prospects for job creation and the development of the country, stressing that government was working to develop the various sectors of the agricultural value chain particularly rice to reduce the country's importation of rice.
He said a team had been constituted to look into the development of the rice value chain and by 2023, Ghana would be rice sufficient.
The Dean of the School of Business of the University of Cape Coast, Professor John Gatsi who outlined the modalities of the award said the stories/article submitted for the award must be fair and balanced, adding that the "story/article must be ground-breaking".
He also said the stories/articles must be supported by facts and should be able to influence public policy.
A former lecturer at the Economics Department of the University of Ghana, Dr Kwadwo Tutu who chaired the programme entreated journalists to seek expert opinion in their stories and articles.
He commended IFEJ for the awards and said it would encourage members of the association to work hard.
The President of IFEJ, Raybon Bulley said the Flamingo Awards was to honour journalists who had worked hard in writing insightful articles on the areas aforementioned.
He expressed gratitude to all the partners who had supported the awards since its inception.