ACCRA, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- The Netherlands and its partners have outlined a 21 million euros project to help improve the competitiveness of Ghana's cocoa industry, the Dutch Embassy in the West African country said Tuesday.
The program, named as the Cocoa Rehabilitation and Intensification Program (CORIP), seeks to develop economic, social and environmentally sustainable support for cocoa farmers in the main cocoa producing regions of Ghana.
The program includes a 7 million euros grant initiative from the Dutch government and an additional 14 million euros expected from private sector cocoa industry funding facility, Dutch Ambassador Hans Docter announced.
The program is a good example of current Dutch policy of combining trade and development cooperation, according to the envoy.
"The program shows that public and private interests can go hand in hand to add value, without the government having to take on additional burden to increase export revenue, make production more sustainable and improve farmers' profit," Docter said.
For the next four years, the farmers' support program will establish and operate Cocoa Rural Service Centers (RCS) that will promote and upscale cocoa production in a sustainable self- financing way in partnership with cocoa buyers.
The envoy added, "It will provide necessary technical support for farmers to rehabilitate old farms and intensify existing cocoa systems," promising that the project would work with the Cocoa Research Institute (CRI) of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) to boost availability of improved planting materials for the farmers.
The project to be coordinated by Solidaridad West Africa, a Netherlands-based international food and energy company, is aimed at entrepreneurial farmers who really want to develop their cocoa farms into sustainable and viable business enterprises, the envoy said.
Cocoa is Ghana's largest export crop and has been the backbone of the economy since independence with the country as the second largest cocoa producer in the world after Cote d'Ivoire.
In July the COCOBOD secured 1. 2 billion U.S. dollars syndicated loan for cocoa purchases for the present 2013/2014 crop season, with the country targeting about 850,000 metric tonnes of the chocolate beans production this season.
Netherlands is the largest importer of cocoa from West Africa and will, through the privately run RCSs provide training, information, inputs and other technical support for improved cocoa production in Ghana.