Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Netherlands to continue the Mabang Megakarya Selection Programme (MMSP) over the next four years.
The programme, which is a public-private partnership between the Board, Netherlands, Ghana Cocoa Growing Research Association Limited (GCGRA), Mars Incorporated and Mondelez International, would contribute more than four million euros to help Ghana develop improved black-pod resistant clonal varieties of seeds.
Speaking at the ceremony in Accra, Mr Harry van Dijk, Deputy Head of Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, called for an economic growth that translated to the overall socio-economic well-being of the citizenry.
“This can be achieved by raising productivity for cocoa farmers;” adding that “Cocoa farmers deserve a decent and stable income.”
Mr Dijk described Ghana as a beacon of Africa’s development and added that the country’s economic development had been impressive.
Mr Anthony Fofie, Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, expressed optimism that the partnership would assist in developing better varieties of planting materials to ensure the sustainability of Ghana’s cocoa and millions of rural livelihoods.
The MMSP was initiated in 2005, to introduce an advanced breeding approach to developing planting materials in Ghana, which would produce high yields of good quality cocoa.
The short term benefit of the programme is expected to improve the output of Ghana’s existing and planned seed gardens through use of superior pollen parents.
In a longer term, trials already underway could lead to identification of the clonal cultivars that would be a key step in the modernisation of cocoa farming.
GCGRA is a UK-based organisation, managing scientific research on behalf of Kraft Foods, Mars and Overseas Office of the Universities of Ghana.
The establishment of the MMSP from 2005 to 2012 had successfully created the Mabang station at COCOBOD’s Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana’s Acherensua-Mabang station on the border of the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions.