The President of the Concerned Cocoa Farmers Association, Nana Boateng Bonsu, has called for the dissolution of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD).
According to him, the time is ripe for cocoa farmers to sell their produce directly to buyers since Cocobod has failed in its duties in the interest of Ghanaian cocoa farmers.
Mr Bonsu in an interview on JoyNews’ PM Express on Monday indicated that the government-controlled institution that fixes the buying price for cocoa in the country is inefficient, thus, farmers should be set free.
“If they know Cocobod has collapsed, we should know so that cocoa farmers can sell their products directly to the buyer to make our money rather than relying on the government because the government has nothing better to offer the farmers,” he said.
The President further noted that Cocobod’s neglect of cocoa farmers has forced many to give up the trade, a situation he believes would be rectified should cocoa farmers have the power to determine the value of their cocoa beans.
Right now, a lot of farmers are cutting down their cocoa trees and shifting to different crops all because they’ve realised that they have been enslaved for so many years.
“Cocobod has put wax in their ears and are not listening to the farmers. There’s nothing happening on the ground. There is no dialogue between farmers and Cocobod. Anything that comes to them [Cocobod] and they think it is beneficial to them or us, they just implement. There is nothing like an engagement or ‘let’s sit down with the farmers since they are those on the ground and see what they want’,” he opined.
Last week, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta revealed that a monitoring desk by his outfit and the Bank of Ghana will be established at Cocobod to ensure discipline in its expenditure.
This is due to the Board’s huge annual losses that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has identified as a major threat to the sector and government’s fiscal efforts.
“Both the Governor of the Central Bank and the Minister of Finance – myself, will now be on the Board and we are also setting up a desk at the Finance Ministry that will interact with the finance division of COCOBOD to make sure the issues of fertilizers, cocoa road are all brought into an ambit of discipline. Those begin to tell you how we are getting into the issue of expenditure,” Mr Ofori-Atta said.
However, the President of the Concerned Cocoa Farmers Association is not amused by the move and is skeptical about Mr Ofori-Atta’s ability to discharge his duties
According to him, the government is only playing with the intelligence of the farmers.
“Cocobod is a collapsed institution. We know it, we foresaw it and said it several times but they never listened. So for this situation, we don’t need Ken Ofori-Atta and his people [at Cocobod]. What are they coming to do?” he quizzed.
“If they had something better to offer by now Ghana’s economy would have shot up. They have nothing to offer. Cocoa farmers are capable of doing their own things… They should forget about Ken Ofori-Atta and his people,” he stressed.