Ghana Targets Ivory Coast’s Top Cocoa Spot With Free Trees

Ghana, the world’s second-biggest cocoa producer, will hand out free seedlings to farmers as it seeks to exceed neighboring Ivory Coast as the top grower of the chocolate ingredient, said Finance Minister Kwabena Duffuor.

“I proposed 20 million seedlings each year for five years,” Duffuor said in an interview at a cocoa conference in Accra, the capital, today.

Cocoa output in Ghana exceeded 1 million metric tons for the first time during the 2010-11 crop season, according to the Ghana Cocoa Board, which regulates the industry in the West African nation. It aims to produce between 1.1 million tons and 1.2 million tons in the next harvest period, which will likely start in October, said Kwabena Asante-Poku, deputy chief executive of the board, on Aug. 24.

Deliveries of cocoa from farms to ports in Ivory Coast rose to almost 1.4 million tons by Aug. 28, according to data from the Abidjan-based Bourse du Cafe et du Cacao.

African producers, including Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon, account for 68 percent of global output, according to the International Cocoa Organization.

Ghana’s increased production came amid better weather, increased use of pesticides and fungicides and a higher price paid to farmers for the crop, according to the cocoa board. Duffuor said the government may consider boosting the rate, which is fixed at the start of each harvest, for 2011-12.