COCOBOD to maintain cocoa price despite fall on world market

Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has stated its readiness to continue to pay the same price cocoa farmers are paid per tonne of beans they produce despite drop in the price.

Currently, cocoa farmers are being paid GH¢7, 600.00 per tonne of beans. But following the reduction of producer price in Cote d’Ivoire and the neighbouring countries, Ghana decided to purchase at same price.

According to the Chief Executive of the COCOBOD, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, the decision to maintain the same price was done in consultation with stakeholders of the cocoa industry including the farmers.

Speaking to a section of the media here, after a consultation forum with the regional and district chief farmers, in respect of the pricing of cocoa and ways to stem fertiliser smuggling, the Chief Executive expressed government’s desire to pay the same price despite the fall of the price of the crop in the world market.

He noted that the price for the crop on the world market range between 800 and 900 US Dollars per tonne and that is about 1,000 US dollars lower than what was pertaining previously with a ton of cocoa beans at 2,900 US Dollars in 2016.

Mr Aidoo noted that, in the cocoa history of Ghana the minimum price for farmers is guaranteed and never had the price of cocoa been reduced, “always when the international price is going down, we tend to maintain the existing price and we want to believe that, may be that is what will happen”.

“As we speak today, the price productivity is range between 1,800 US Dollars and 2,100 US Dollars, so we have averaged it at 1,900 US Dollars per ton. Now you realise that, already about 1,000 US dollars have been lost from the national market. But the imperative is that, we are doing forward sales, therefore even as the cocoa trees are far well now, we have already sold our cocoa,” the explained.

But, the decision, he observed, would hit the nation: “And then again, we are currently selling the black crop beans for the next year 2018 and we are selling it at low price of 1,900 US Dollars, which will further be discounted at 20 per cent, so it means that, next year we are going to enter a very difficult year for the cocoa industry and also for the Ghana economy”.

On the issue of fertiliser, the Chief Executive mentioned a new price for a bag at GH¢171.00 which has the intention of curbing the smuggling menace.

He noted that the free fertiliser was not helping the farmers because the stuff were not used but smuggled outside which brought down productivity, stressing…“whereas before, we had one million metric tonnes, but with the introduction of free fertiliser over the last three years we have been producing less than 800 metric tonnes in the average, which is not in the interest of the nation all because the fertilisers are finding their ways into the neighbouring countries as far as even Cameroon.”

Mr Aidoo indicated that many beneficiaries who were not farmers had the opportunity to get fertilisers to sell them “but now we are placing a price on it which is a subsidised price and therefore government is taking 50 per cent and the farmers are paying GH¢ 80.00 per bag that is the new policy”.

We are also going to introduce irrigation onto the farms, it will help in the dry season because there is no moisture in the soil, most of the crops drop so we want to introduce irrigation for soil moisture to support cocoa productivity.

He re-echoed the introduction of hand pollination geared toward high productivity with a target of two tonnes per hectare (that is 32 bags per hectare) “and if we are able to do that, I am sure all of you will go into cocoa farming”.

Speaking on behalf of the regional and district cocoa farmers association, Nana Kwabena Nicholas, western north region chief farmer, praised the government for the decision to pay same price to farmers  for a tonne of cocoa beans, despite the world market drop in price.

He said the move would spur on farmers to work hard to cultivate the crop in large volumes to move the nation forward.

The chief farmer said it was a good decision by the government to engage the farmers on the way forward to produce cocoa, but urged the government to check the rate of smuggling of cocoa beans by some farmers to avoid a drop on crop production year round.

From Kingsley E. Hope, Kumasi

 

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