The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) is to procure the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) recommended electronic sealable weighing scales, as part of measures to stop cheating in the cocoa purchasing value chain.
The scales, according to the COCOBOD, are tamper-proof to safeguard cocoa farmers from being shortchanged by Local Buying Companies.
These reform and preventive measures, the Board said, started in 2018 following a media report.
At a press conference in Accra yesterday to outline measures put in place to avoid recurrence, the Deputy Chief Executive in charge of Operations, Dr Emmanuel Opoku said the new scales would be available for use in the next cocoa season.
“To provide the needed guidance and ensure the smooth rollout of this reform, the decision has been taken to import the electronic sealable weighing scales, starting this year, and distribute them at a cost to the LBCs,” he said.
According to Dr Opoku, the COCOBOD has put in place a punitive measure to surcharge any defaulting LBC with the monetary equivalent of the aggregated weight from cocoa sheds across the country.
“Obviously, continuous monitoring and policing will be necessary to ensure the effective implementation of such a measure to eliminate a systemic problem.
“The work of the media in shining light on the situation and improvement as we progress, as well as the vigilance of our field staff and the cocoa farmers themselves, will together play a crucial role in eliminating this cocoa canker,” he observed.
Dr Opoku was optimistic that the COCOBOD’s Farmer Data/Cocoa Information Management System, when ready, would improve overall monitoring of the supply chain including purchasing, weighing and grading of cocoa, enhance records keeping among others.
The management of COCOBOD, he said had maintained a farmer-focused approach to regulating and managing Ghana’s cocoa sector; hence, the introduction and intensification of Productivity Enhancement Programmes (PEPs).
Some of these PEPs, he said included mass pruning exercise, hand pollination, subsidised fertiliser distribution, and the cocoa rehabilitation programme.
“The overarching aim of the PEPs and the achievement of the Living Income Differential (LID) is to safeguard the immediate and future welfare of cocoa farmers by improving their earnings, so, they can afford improved standards of living.
“We do hope that all stakeholders will make this their mission as well and join forces with COCOBOD to create a fair and rewarding environment for all,” he urged.