The theme for this year's festival was, “Sustainable cocoa production-the role of the youth.”
A Youth-in-Cocoa programme initiated by the COCOBOD has engaged more than 30,000 young men and women in cocoa farming
The speakers said there was the urgent need to halt the development before it created more havoc for the industry.
Even though cocoa production began in the Eastern Region, Mr Sekyere observed that the region was gradually becoming an apology of its original niche in cocoa production, largely because of widespread galamsey activities, which had destroyed the hitherto flourishing cocoa farms.
"Indeed, galamsey activities have been destroying cocoa farms and the Eastern Region is the worst affected," he stressed.
He advised the youth engaged in galamsey to stop the illegal activities and follow the example of others who were into cocoa farming in all the six regions of the country where cocoa is cultivated.
He commended the COCOBOD for the Youth-in-Cocoa Programme initiative, which had engaged more young men and women in cocoa farming.
For his part, Dr Opuni cited illegal gold mining that destroyed cocoa farms, over-age cocoa trees and the cocoa swollen shoot virus infected trees, as some of the challenges facing the cocoa industry.
A major challenge to sustaining cocoa production, however, was the "lack of motivation of the youth to" embrace cocoa farming and take over from our ageing farmers," he noted.
Dr Opuni said it was to address that challenge that the COCOBOD introduced the Youth-in-Cocoa Programme to encourage them with free cocoa seedlings, fertiliser, extension services, among others.
He said 30,000 youths had been enrolled into the programme.
This year, the COCOBOD, according to Dr Opuni, raised and distributed 50 million hybrid cocoa seedlings to farmers free of charge, an initiative which would be repeated next year.
He said steps were also being taken to eliminate child labour in the sector.
When he took his turn, the National Best Farmer, Alhaji Alhassan Bukari, reiterated that galamsey was destroying cocoa farms and that was adversely affecting cocoa production.
The Omanhene of Akim Tafo, Osabarima Adusei Peasah IV, appealed to the government to construct the Tafo town roads under the cocoa roads projects.