I have come here this afternoon to perform the opening ceremony of this imposing building, the completion of which marks yet another stage in our economic development.
The opening of this magnificent building synchronised with my arrival in this country in the year 1947. We leave the rest of history. This house is a symbol to the gratitude of the pioneer cocoa farmers who without knowing the importance of their own efforts actually blazed the path to the economic progress of our nation. It also embodies our faith in the economic and industrial future of this country.
I consider that at a time like this, it is fitting to remind ourselves, briefly, of the history of the Cocoa Marketing Board. The Cocoa Marketing Board as you are all aware, has the special responsibility of buying from the farmer, his cocoa crop and selling it on the market at the best price obtainable.
The system of marketing the crop before the Second World War was most unsatisfactory and made the farmer, the victim of several disadvantages. The price paid for his crop was generally low. In addition, it was uncertain because of the price fluctuations on the world market. The ignorance and poverty of the farmer were exploited by middleman and more often than not, the peasant farmer was forced to pledge, and in many cases lose his farm to unscrupulous money lenders.
With the outbreak of the Second World War, the cocoa industry was face; with a situation in which the overseas market for the crop had largely disappeared. lt was at this time that the Government of the day made certain controlled marketing arrangements which brought the fanner some advantages.
From the experience of this controlled marketing sprang the idea of me establishment of the Cocoa Marketing Board. The Board was created by status: in 1947 and has since maintained a steady and excellent progress in operations.
The price paid to the farmer by the Board is guaranteed for the crop year. This means the farmer knows in advance what he is to receive for his crop, he is also protected from any short term price changes on the world market. The difference between what the Board expends and what is received from the sale of the crop on the world market goes partly into Government revenue by way of export duty and partly into reserves of the Board for price stabilisation and for carrying out its other functions.
Our Government through the Cocoa Marketing Board, is doing all it can to ensure that until the national economy has become sufficiently diversified so as to ease our dependence on the cocoa industry, the industry shall be adequate safeguards to prevent our economy from being thrown out of balance
We have managed by determination and foresight, to break the direct between the producer’s price and the price on the world market.
It was not easy to do so, for our anxiety was deliberately misinterpreted to the farmers by "Cocoa Season" politicians who sought to destroy the confidence which the farmers had in the C. P. P and the Government. The majority of the farmers however realising that what was being done was in their best interest rallies to our support. And today no matter the violence of the fluctuation of world market price of cocoa, the Ghanaian farmer has a steady price for his crop and is no longer at the mercy of speculators or opportunist politicians.
Furthermore, another result of our action within these past ten years, in the accumulation of substantial profit by the Board and the consequent building up of reserves which have assisted in the financing of Government development projects.
The Board as a result of the economic policy of our party and Government has in fact been used as a major instrument of national policy, in stabilising prices to the consumers, in providing funds for the eradication of cocoa diseases and in developing our country, in the economic, social and educational fields. Mr. Chairman, cocoa is the life-blood of the country and we are trying to do everything possible to increase both the quality and the quantity so as to maintain our premier position among the cocoa producing countries of the world.
In this connection, I am happy to announce that our cocoa crop forecast for this season is 325,000 tons which will be a record. I congratulate the farmers and all those engaged in our cocoa industry for this magnificent record and I urge you to keep it up.
Thanks to the industry and by virtue of the financial policy which I adopted with regard to the husbanding of surplus cocoa money, this country has enjoyed a stable economy and a gigantic development programme unparalled with that of any other country in similar circumstances.
The accumulated reserves of the Cocoa Marketing Board is public money, held in trust by the Government for the benefit of the farmers and the people of this country.
Many Ghanaian institutions have received grants or endowments from the Government through the Board. For example, we have given twenty-seven million pounds towards cocoa rehabilitation and control of swollen shoot and capsid, and endowment of two million pounds have been paid to the faculty of Agriculture of the University College of Ghana, the West African Cocoa Research Institute has received two million pounds in aid of research into cocoa diseases and cultivation of high yielding varieties. Regional Organisations have also •received grants of about three million pounds to finance local development projects, we are financing the construction of a memorial hospital to Tetteh Quarshie and 40 old Secondary Schools are being built by the Ghana Educational Trust.
In all, over seventy-four pounds has been given to institutions and organisations for the development and improvement of agriculture, health education and other economic and social services in Ghana. Under the new economic programme to industrialise the country and to revolutionise agriculture, Ghana stands at the threshold of a new era of prosperity and progress.
Our aim together with the Government and the aim of the C.P.P. is to establish a society in which there is neither rich nor poor in which there is no class distinction and which provides everyone with a decent Standard of living and with equal opportunities in life for education and employment according to one’s ability.
Thus the society l envisage for Ghana is one where there exists only one class of people, where the riches of the so-called upper classes and the poverty of the so-called lower classes are pooled together so that the maximum benefit goes to the greatest number of people. After all, the riches of nature must be used, as it was always intended that they should be used, for the good of everyone.
And here, l would like to take the opportunity of thanking the cocoa farmers of Ghana for their contribution to our Second Development Plan. The Government has already announced that the buying of cocoa should as from the next mid-crop, be taken up over by the Ghana farmers marketing cooperatives and that there should not be any other licensed buying agents.
At this juncture, I would like to express my thanks, and the thanks of the whole country, to the farmers of Ghana whose sustained interest in cultivating this all important crop of cocoa has helped our economy. I am grateful to the Chairman and members of the Cocoa Marketing Board and to their staff, both past and present, for making it possible for this building to be erected. It is appropriate that, I should at this point refer to Sir Eric Tansley, the Managing Director of the Cocoa Marketing Company in London who is here with us today, our association with Sir Eric Tansley has been a long and valuable one. He has given of his best at all times to ensure that Ghana’s cocoa has been sold to her advantage. Sir Eric has informed me that he is obliged for reasons of health to resign shortly from the Chairmanship of the Cocoa Marketing Company. He will retain his association with Ghana and will continue to advise us from time to time on cocoa matters.
I should like to take this opportunity however to repeat and to emphasise, the tribute which I paid to the work of Sir Eric Tansley over a year ago, when I addressed the Association of Cocoa Manufacturers in London.
I personally value most highly the great services which he has rendered for the development of the cocoa industry and trade not only in Ghana, but in West Africa and throughout the world. We shall be sorry to see him go. By his hard work, honesty integrity and vigilance, Sir Eric has helped to make the Ghana cocoa industry, the great enterprise which it is today. I hope very much that when he finally retires on account of age, we in Ghana will be able to do something to associate Sir Eric Tansley’s name with our cocoa industry.
I am confident that this building which I officially name "Cocoa House," will remind us from generation to generation of the vital role which cocoa has played and continues to play in our national economy. Now, Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen: I have the pleasure to declare "Cocoa House" open.