The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has signed a US$1.5 billion syndicated loan agreement with a consortium of international and local financial institutions for the purchase of cocoa beans for the 2021/2022 crop season.
Parliament earlier this year approved the deal which comes with a 1.1 per cent interest plus libor compared to the 1.75 per cent it paid for the US$1.3 billion it secured for the 2020/2021 crop season.
With the first tranche of more than 50 per cent of the amount expected to hit the COCOBOD’s account next month, the loan is expected to be retired by August next year in seven equal instalments.
The loan request, according to the COCOBOD, was oversubscribed by US$200 million from the 24 financial institutions which include the Amro Bank, Bank of China Limited in London, Standard Chartered Bank, Industrial, and Commercial Bank of China and Ghana International Bank, Cooperative Rabobank, UA, and Societe General.
The amount is expected to be used to purchase some 950,000 tonnes of cocoa for the period.
At a virtual pact signing ceremony in Accra yesterday, Chief Executive of the COCOBOD, BoahenAidoo, said the response by the institutions to the deal is as a result of the growing confidence of industry players in the COCOBOD.
He said the medium to long-term target of the COCOBOD was to maintain or surpass the 1,045,500 million tonnes – an all time record – produces in the 2020/2021 crop season.
This, he said, would be done by enhancing the production enhancement programmes that included pruning, hand pollination and fertilisation to achieve the target of 1,500 kilogrammes of cocoa per hectare by the year 2025.
He disclosed that the government would with effect from October 1, 2021, roll out the Cocoa Farmers’ Pension Scheme, having piloted same in the New Edubiase district with some 2,800 farmers.
“Once rolled out, our farmers will also enjoy a decent retirement benefit and live happily after retirement from active farming.”
He assured that “the loan will be used for its intended purposes and will be paid as scheduled. Our track record remains unblemished and we shall do everything possible to pay as planned.”
DrOwusuAfriyieAkoto, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, in his remark, reassured of government’s commitment to position the Cocoa industry as the mainstay of the Ghanaian economy.
DrAkotourged the management of COCOBOD to strictly use the money for the intended purpose paying the farmers promptly, and focusing on productivity enhancement activities to shore up Cocoa production.
The lenders in a statement expressed confidence in the COCOBOD to fulfil its part of the agreement, having been consistent with repayment of the syndicated loan since the 1992/1993 crop season.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI