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March 08, 2011

Ghana cocoa concern to branch out into cotton production

by Moses Mozart Dzawu and Chris Kay

Armajaro Holdings Ltd.’s unit in Ghana will invest at least $10 million to produce cotton amid plans to use the fiber crop to boost development in the West African nation’s arid north.
Armajaro Ghana Ltd., the fourth-biggest purchaser of cocoa beans from Ghanaian farmers, will cultivate half-hectare farms in the central part of the Northern region to produce 20,000 metric tons of cotton each year, said Nelson Kpodo-Tay, director of operations with the Kumasi-based company.

“Armajaro will be providing management, inputs and technical support,” he said. “It will also be in charge of marketing the produce.”

Ghana is the world’s second-largest cocoa producer, which is grown mostly in the central part of the country. The northern half has a dry, Sahelian climate and borders Burkina Faso, sub- Saharan Africa’s largest cotton producer.

Ghana produced a “pathetic” 3,000 tons of cotton last year and hopes to raise production to 50,000 tons annually within three years, Hanna Tetteh, Ghana’s minister of trade and industry, said in an interview. Burkina Faso’s 2010-11 output is projected at 185,000 tons, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Ghanaian Vice President John Mahama will start the Armajaro project on March 5, Kpodo-Tay said. The country has the capacity to produce 250,000 tons of lint cotton and give employment to 500,000 farmers, the state-owned Ghana News Agency reported on Feb. 27, citing Agriculture Minister Kwesi Ahwoi.

Cotton for May delivery climbed for a third day, reaching the daily limit on the ICE Futures exchange in New York. It traded $7, or 3.7 percent, higher to $1.9823 a pound.


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