I write to you as a patriotic Ghanaian and Nkrumaist ultra-nationalist – who loves mother Ghana dearly. I wish all of you the very best of luck, this coming Sunday - the day of the presidential election!
Only yesterday, I received an email notifying me of a comment that had been posted on my blog, by an American graduate student, named Beth - who is apparently doing research for a paper on globalization.
The article on which she was commenting, was one I had written in October 2008, appealing to the COCOBOD to start thinking of cocoa farmers as equal partners.
Needless to say, the COCOBOD ignored it completely - as they have done every article I have written to them encouraging them to opt for the path of sustainability (i.e. move the industry in the direction of organic cocoa farming - to ensure its long-term future).
Gentlemen, I am reproducing both the comment of the American graduate student, Beth, and the article (now modified, slightly, for you!) she thought was thought-provoking enough, to take the trouble to comment on - but which was sadly ignored by the COCOBOD - for you.
I do hope it will be good food for thought, for the one amongst you, who is lucky enough to be elected on Sunday, to become Ghana’s next president.
PS Please find below the article I addressed to the COCOBOD - which is followed by the comment of the American lady, Beth (who has just the kind of profile of the enlightened overseas chocolate consumer, which I mentioned in that article, incidentally!).
“GHANA COCOBOD: PLEASE LISTEN TO THE ORDINARY COCOA FARMERS OF GHANA FOR A CHANGE - FOR, WE AREN'T FOOLS AT ALL!
As an ordinary cocoa farmer, I am constantly amazed at the display of wealth that I see in the car park of the COCOBOD, whenever I visit its headquarters building, Cocoa House, in Accra.
The latest models of luxury Volvos assigned to COCOBOD executives, and the billions spent renovating Cocoa House, are an indication of the massive resources the COCOBOD commands in our country.
As a simple and very ordinary cocoa farmer, who likes to think he is a creative thinker, I believe that the time has now come for a paradigm shift in the role that the COCOBOD plays in the lives of cocoa farmers.
Those who run the COCOBOD must now start listening to us: and to think of us as equal partners - in the important task of moving the industry to a higher and more sustainable level.
My family farms at Akim Abuakwa Juaso - where the community desperately wants to improve its quality of life: by farming in an environmentally sustainable manner that also results in improved farm productivity.
For example, the inhabitants want to build a library for the schoolchildren in the community. They also want to use the biochar retort developed by the renowned sustainability expert, the Swedish gentleman Folke Gunther, to make biochar from waste cocoa husks and other biomass available on our farms.
The use of biochar by Ghana's cocoa farmers will increase yields dramatically - and without all the harmful chemicals (the so-called HITECH mass-spraying initiative: the “chemical-cocktail-lunacy”) that is making health-conscious foreigners shun chocolate made from non-organic cocoa beans - and consequently makes discerning overseas buyers wary of Ghana's cocoa these days.
Ultimately, the community wants to use the American designer Sean K. Barry's biochar plant, to make biochar and produce electric power - and also use the waste gas to provide the town's inhabitants with a refrigerated warehouse.
We do have the ideas - but sadly lack the means to realize our goal of turning Akim Abuakwa Juaso into a model sustainable cocoa-producing village.
We urge the COCOBOD to take a look at the sustainable development model that Sustainable Villages Africa (SVA), the South African sustainable livelihood organisation has developed - and give them a contract to do a pilot project to develop Akim Abuakwa Juaso into a model sustainable village: and replicate same if it is successful, all over the cocoa-growing areas of the enterprise Ghana.
The COCOBOD must also take an interest in the work of the International Biochar Initiative - and empower the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) to work closely with that body, to leverage the many benefits of biochar, for cocoa farmers in particular, and Ghanaian farmers generally.
Let them listen to a poor cocoa farmer, for once, for a change - for, it is precisely because of our labour, that they get perks like the poshest Volvo models and COCOBOD-paid chauffeurs to drive them around in the lap of luxury; live in luxurious Hollywood-style COCOBOD properties; are paid the local equivalent of fantastic developed-world-level salaries; and work in air-conditioned glory.
Hopefully, none of them will dare accuse poor cocoa farmers who point out all the perks they earn, as being "lazy" and "envious" - as our "Hypocrite-in-Chief" is wont to describe those who point out the glaring disparities in wealth in our nation, today. A word to the wise...
Hmmm, Ghana - eyeasesm oo: asem ebaba debi ankasa! May God bless and protect our homeland Ghana, always. Long live freedom! Long live Ghana! “
Beth's comment: “Yes! I love what you have to say and I love your vision for your community. I am just an American grad student, studying the cocoa industry for a paper on globalization. I came across your blog and am so encouraged by your thoughts. Thank you!"