Government urged to increase farm-gate price of cocoa

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The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Parliamentary Minority is demanding an immediate increase in the cocoa farm-gate price by the Government.

cocoa wealthMr Eric Opoku, the Ranking Member on the Parliamentary Select Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs, in a statement copied to the Ghana News Agency, said the Minority had taken notice of recent developments on the international market relative to the prices of cocoa.

“We have observed that global cocoa prices have been soaring in recent time, hitting an all-time high of US$10,000 per ton,” he said.

He noted that the recent increase in cocoa prices on the world market had been occasioned by the global shortage of cocoa, owing to a significant decline in cocoa output in Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire, who contribute approximately 70 per cent of the total volume of cocoa produced globally.

He said the NDC was deeply concerned about the sharp decline in Ghana’s cocoa production volumes under the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Government.

He said the situation was set to get even worse, as Ghana’s cocoa production for the 2023/2024 crop season was reported to be about 450,000mt; the lowest in the past two decades.

Mr Opoku said this was fast-eroding the incomes and purchasing power of the already-impoverished cocoa farmers.

He said the living conditions of Ghanaian cocoa farmers keep worsening by the day due to the sharp decline in cocoa output.

“Clearly, this negative trend will persist if the farm-gate price of cocoa is not significantly increased, to compensate for the loss in income of farmers,” Mr Opoku stated.

“It is instructive to note, that the average international market price of cocoa currently stands at US$10,000 per ton 16 bags of cocoa.”

The Ranking Member, who is also the NDC Member of Parliament for Asunafo South, said the current world market price was equivalent to GHS130,000.00 per ton, at a conservative exchange rate of $1.00 to GHS13.00.

He said this means that a bag of cocoa was currently being sold on the world market at about GHS8,125, while the Ghanaian farmer was being paid a paltry GHS1,308.

He reiterated that this was a clear rip-off of the nation’s hard-working cocoa farmers by the NPP Government who continue to mismanage the cocoa sector.

He said the NDC Caucus in Parliament was urging the government to immediately increases the farm-gate price of cocoa to reflect the recent unprecedented hike in the world market prices of cocoa.

“We are appalled by the continuous mismanagement of the cocoa sector and the short changing of our hard-working Ghanaian cocoa farmers by the ruling NPP government.”

Mr Opoku said last year, Ghana lost about 150,000mt of cocoa valued at almost $400,000,000 to smuggling.

He said this was occasioned by the fact that the nation’s hardworking cocoa farmers were not offered competitive prices.

He said the recurrence of this situation this year would have dire consequences for the cocoa industry, which was on the verge of collapse due to gross mismanagement and corruption.

Mr Opoku said it was sad to note, that while the nation’s hard working cocoa farmers continue to be shortchanged, COCOBOD’s administrative expenses which stood at less than GHS500 million in 2016, increased to GHS1.7 billion in 2020, and ballooned further to GHS2.5 billion in 2021.

“Only this week, we sighted an official document in which the Management of COCOBOD has granted approval for the purchase of 15 ipad keyboards for its Board of Directors at a staggering cost of GHS4,500.00 per unit.”

He said this was the clearest evidence yet, that the Management of COCOBOD had prioritised waste and the comfort of their offices at the expense of hard-working cocoa farmers.

He said in addition, it was symptomatic of the recklessness and mismanagement that have plagued COCOBOD for the past seven years which accounted for the cumulative losses of GHS13.62 billion, recorded by COCOBOD since 2017.

He said it was the considered view of the Minority Caucus, that urgent steps be taken to save the nation’s dying cocoa sector now.

He said it was therefore imperative that the Government significantly increases the farm-gate price of cocoa, in consonance with the current world market price of cocoa.

“This we believe will incentivise our farmers and discourage the smuggling of cocoa beans amid all the challenges bedeviling the industry,” Mr Opoku said.

By Iddi Yire, GNA

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