President John Dramani Mahama has encouraged cocoa farmers to take full advantage of the national cocoa trees replacement exercise to increase their yield and eventually improve Ghana's overall output.
The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) is supplying 50 million hybrid seedlings that have high yields and are resistant to diseases freely to farmers to replace aged cocoa trees on their farms.
The President was speaking at a sod-cutting ceremony at Subin Camp, a major cocoa growing area in the Adansi South District, yesterday for work to begin on cocoa roads reconstruction in the Ashanti Region.
He said the cocoa replacement exercise was important and must be taken seriously because of the inherent benefits.
He assured cocoa farmers that no effort would be spared by the government to support them to improve on their yields.
He said although Ghana was the world's second highest producer of cocoa, it refreshingly maintained its position as the producer of the highest quality cocoa beans globally.
The COCOBOD is providing $150 million every year for the programme. Among the roads being tackled in the Ashanti Region are the 22-kilometre Ataase Nkwanta-Owusukrom and the five-kilometre New Edubiase town roads.
They will all be tarred, a departure from existing practice of feeder roads being only gravelled.
President Mahama said the Dompoase road rehabilitation project had also been removed from Government of Ghana financing to COCOBOD financing.
President Mahama took serious view of the sale of cocoa inputs which are meant to be supplied freely to farmers and warned that anyone caught in the act would not be spared by the laws of the land.
Describing such people as nation wreckers, the President said COCOBOD investigative teams were on the ground and already some culprits were facing the full rigours of the law.
He encouraged farmers not to hesitate to report people who demanded money from them before supplying them with such inputs.
"If we fail to report wrongdoing, we will be retarding the development of the country," he said.
The Dompoasehene, Okofo Sabin Kan, commended the government for the efforts being made to open up rural communities.
That, he explained, was a testimony that the President cared for the people in the rural areas.
"We know the government is going through some challenges in the management of the nation but we are confident that it will overcome them in due course.
"What is important is for all of us to play our part and also pray for the government as it tackles the challenges," he said.
The Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr Peter Anarfi-Mensah, in a welcome address, said the region was getting its fair share of the national cake.