The finances of Ghana COCOBOD is in dire straits requiring urgent surgery to revive the once vibrant entity.
JoyNews is learning COCOBOD lost almost 600 million dollars representing 150 thousand metric tons in the last crop season due to the smuggling of cocoa beans to neighboring Burkina Faso and Togo which made them exporters of cocoa they don’t produce.
Minister of Food and Agriculture, Bryan Acheampong says the development has left many cocoa storage facilities empty.
“I reported last time that because of pricing, we started smuggling on our eastern and western borders. Even our northern borders, we suffered cocoa smuggling – Burkina Faso does not produce any cocoa at all, not even one grain yet Burkina Faso was exporting cocoa.
“Togo does not produce cocoa, Togo is now exporting cocoa from the eastern corridor, all the way from the north to the south.”
He added “During the rainy season, we had a drop of 85% of cocoa expected from the communities. This is cocoa that we have invested a lot of money in.”
To address the smuggling, President Akufo Addo over the weekend announced a new producer price, the highest in the sub-region.
At a gathering in Tepa, in the Ashanti Region, the president declared that the new producer price per bag of cocoa would be GH₵1,308.
He stated that, until recently, international prices of cocoa had remained very low, and made worse by COVID-19.
He added that, in spite of this, COCOBOD and government have been taking the very hard decision of increasing the producer price of cocoa.
“Cocoa prices have increased from GH¢7,600 per tonne in 2016, to GH¢12,800 per tonne in 2022, a significant increase of 68%. This has had an adverse impact on COCOBOD’s financial performance,” he said.
Acknowledging that the sustainability of the entire cocoa industry hinges on a well-remunerated producer, who is willing to invest in the business only with the certainty that government will pay the appropriate price, the President stated that government, in keeping with its promise to cocoa farmers has increased the producer price.
According to President Akufo-Addo, government has “increased cocoa prices from GH¢12,800 per ton to GH¢20,943 per ton, or GH¢1,308 per bag.
“That price is seventy-point-five percent (70.5%) of the Gross FoB price, and is equivalent to $1,821 per ton.”
This, the President indicated,” is the highest price to be paid to cocoa farmers across West Africa in some 50 years.
With the predicted stable prices above the $2,600 threshold, government will continue to honour our farmers with good prices in the years ahead. Indeed, better days are ahead.”
However, some cocoa farmers are not enthused about the new price.
President of the Concerned Farmers Association, Oboadie Nana Boateng Bonsu says the demand of farmers goes beyond money.
“The interventions, the welfare and other things that the cocoa farmers are supposed to get, they are not getting it, we have a very bad network … The 1,330 I think it is peanut, it will not do anything and it will not prevent the cocoa smugglers from smuggling their cocoa.”
Also, former President John Mahama has in a statement described the increment as woefully inadequate.
He added that it is a rip-off of hardworking cocoa farmers.
Mr Mahama argued that given the international market price of cocoa reaching a 46-year record high of $3,600, the government should have provided cocoa farmers with a more equitable share of the international FOB price.