The Minority caucus in parliament has called on the Akufo-Addo led government to as a matter of necessity announce the new producer price for cocoa beans in the country to avert farmers been cheated by buyers.
According to the Minority, the government’s’s delay in announcing the producer’s price for the cocoa is aiding middle buyers to cheat the Cocoa Farmers at Sheds.
They also urged the government to increase the prices of bags of cocoa beans to GHS1, 000.00 from the current GHS 660.00.
THE Ranking Member of the Finance Committee of Parliament, Hon Dr Cassiel Ato Baah Forson, made the call at a press briefing in parliament on Wednesday , October 5, 2022.
According to the Minority, the government of Ghana failed to announce a new cocoa farmgate price for the 2022/2023 crop season which began October 1, 2022, stressing that, the delay in announcing the price is a cheat and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) not do that shortly government.
Currently, he said Ghanaian cocoa farmers are smuggling their produce to the Ivory Coast where prices are high as a result of the delay in announcing the new prices, insisting that payment of a premium price to farmers is non-negotiable if the smuggling is to stop.
“The uncertainties are getting very worrying. But let me say that after these uncertainties, the government should not announce any price below thousand cedis per bag, in other words, GHc16, 000 per metric tonne.”
“It will surprise you that on Friday, 30th September 2022, our neighbouring country, Ivory Coast announced a price of 900 CFA franc which is equivalent to GHC852 per bag or GHC13,632 per metric tonne. Even though their currency is not depreciating at this rate as we have observed in Ghana. Let me caution that if this government fails to raise the Cocoa prices it could trigger massive smuggling, particularly at a time when we need every single dollar.
“Today, one thing that this country needs most foreign Exchange, the dollar, and so we cannot afford to allow our cocoa to leave the borders of our country. And we can only do that if indeed we preserve the farmgate price by giving the farmers a good price.”
Similarly, the Ghana Civil-Society Cocoa Platform (GCCP), an independent campaign and advocacy platform for civil society actors in the cocoa sector wants Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) to announce an increase in the Producer Price of Cocoa to ¢838 from the current ¢660 a bag for the 2022/2023 crop season.
Full Statement by the Minority
Farmers and stakeholders are running out of patience for COCOBOD.
Every year cocoa prices are announced at the opening of the season. 1st October is internationally recognised as the start of the cocoa season worldwide as affirmed by the UN body for cocoa, the International Cocoa Organisation — ICCO.
This year COCOBOD opened the cocoa season without a producer price for cocoa. After wasting scarce resources to organise a cocoa day that, was poorly attended, farmers and stakeholders in the cocoa industry are left in suspense about the price.
We wish to send a loud and clear message to this government; cocoa farmers are fed up and demand their cocoa price now.
After all this uncertainty, the government should not announce any price below GHS 1000 per bag or GHS16,000 per tonne. Ghanaians are all witnesses to the historic depreciation of the Cedi. In 2021, COCOBOD used an exchange rate of GHS 6 to the $1. We wish to remind them that the dollar is now more than 10. Even at the dollar equivalent price, famers and all stakeholders including LBCs and Haulers should receive higher prices and margins this year.
On Friday 30th September 2022, Ivory Coast announced a price of 900 CFA which is equivalent o GHS852 per bag or GHS13,632 per tonne. If this government fails to raise cocoa prices, it could trigger massive smuggling, particularly at a time when we need every single dollar.
With significant volumes of cocoa purchased in October, the Ivorian price now leading Ghana by a whopping GHS192, Ghana could be losing cocoa to smuggling as a result of the needless delay in announcing the producer price.
Considering extreme inflation and hardship in the country, the least this insensitive government can do is to pay cocoa farmers remunerative cocoa prices.
In addition, the international price of cocoa has appreciated slightly, above the previous year levels, so this Government should not, in this dire economic situation remain insensitive to the plight of cocoa farmers, stakeholders and Ghanaians in general.
We wish to assure our hard-working cocoa farmers, that a future NDC government will not short-change them, and only wait to increase cocoa prices in an election year as we saw in 2020 and which they appear to be planning to repeat.
Very late and very little: 2022 syndicated loan. The Syndicated loan was signed on 3rd October 2022, for the first time in 30-years. The Syndicated Loan is typically signed before October so that the draw down is timed to the start of the
season. However, this government has added the late signing of syndicated loans to its plethora of failures.
Parliament approved up to a $1.3 billion syndicated loan. However, COCOBOD could only get $1.13bn. This is purely due to the lack of confidence in the Ghanaian economy resulting from the generally agreed incompetence and gross mismanagement of the Ghanaian economy.
With huge and unprecedented debt overhang at COCOBOD will the syndicated loan go into purchase of cocoa and related operations? Or will LBCs suffer the same faith of borrowing very expensive loans to buy cocoa from farmers, only for COCOBOD not to pay them, as we have seen since 2017?
During the just ended season, COCOBOD took a loan of $1.3billion to buy 850 tonnes of cocoa. Actual production is about 700,000, the lowest production in more than 10 years. Another unprecedented failure. Yet LBCs complain that COCOBOD still owes them for cocoa delivered. Where is the money?
This Government is collapsing the cocoa sector as it has done to every other sector. They must be reminded that Cocoa is the backbone of the Ghanaian economy. Ghanaians are saying enough of the mismanagement.
The NDC Caucus in Parliament demands an urgent intervention from the President on the policy alternatives we have provided in this statement so our suffocating cocoa sector would be salvaged.
Dr Cassiel Ato Forson
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