The Coalition for Cocoa Sector Reforms (CCSR) GH has called on the government through COCOBOD to reconsider the 2022/23 producer price announced to avoid the negative impact the new GH¢800.00 per bag of cocoa beans will have.
“Farmers over the last two decades were always assured of over $100.00 out of the world market price for each bag of cocoa sold through the FOB pricing mechanism used in setting the price for the commodity. It is however unfortunate and surprising that government this year awarded to farmers, less than $80.00 for a bag of cocoa,” a statement jointly signed by Mr Ayisi Kumah Thomas Kwesi, and Mr Hedidor Alexander Yaw, President and Secretary of the coalition respectively and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra yesterday said.
“This is rather a decrease in producer price than an increase hence COCOBOD must come again. In these times of increasing inflation, prices of inputs, fuel and economic hardship, this treatment to our hardworking cocoa farmers must change,” it said.
The statement said the producer price announced by the Minister of Food and Agriculture was not only low, but demotivating and should therefore be reviewed.
It said the analysis carried out by the Coalition showed that, further reduction of cocoa price was disincentive to cocoa farmers and would lower productivity, given the fact that both cost of living and cost of production had increased astronomically in Ghana, owing to inflation and rapid depreciation of the cedi against the dollar.
It said hopes of cocoa farmers would be shattered by the new price especially when neighbouring Ivory Coast had comparatively maintained relatively stable currency and economy.
“It is clear and beyond all doubts that with this lowering of cocoa prices (dollar terms), government and COCOBOD will render cocoa farming unattractive to the youth by worsening the economic plight of cocoa farmers.
“Cocoa farmers are already impoverished and overwhelmed by our current economic situation and to further reduce the price of cocoa will worsen their plight.
“This is an industry that has supported this country for over 30 years with revenue from exports, but there seems to be a clear lack of foresight, or an ill-will in the management and sustenance of the sector by its current managers: COCOBOD.
The statement said the decision of reducing cocoa price (in dollar terms) came in the midst of reports of cocoa farmers selling their arable land to illegal mining operatives (galamsey), neighboring country Ivory Coast raising its farm gate price to CFA900 equivalent to GH¢852.00, increasing prices of inputs, increased unemployment and ageing farmer population.
The statement said about 19,000 acres of cocoa lands were lost to galamsey activities last year and it would not be surprising that the figure would be tripled in the ensuing year, while cocoa beans would be further smuggled along the border towns, with farms receiving little or no investments.
It said the credibility of COCOBOD in acquiring future loans would be impaired and eventually the industry would suffer existential threat and called on government to review the current situation
“We believe that any government interested in discouraging smuggling, fighting against galamsey, increasing annual cocoa volumes, and improving the lives of its gallant cocoa farmers should rather increase prices to discourage negative tendencies and sustain the economy.
“Before the dust could settle on the topic of this cocoa price reduction, BoG came with a hike in monetary policy rate to tighten the economy”.
“This came after drawing down on the $1.13bn syndicated cocoa loan to be used to shore up its Forex reserves and stabilise our currency. The hike in monetary policy rate which will directly or indirectly increase lending rates, the cost of goods and services including cost of cocoa inputs. Closure of shops in Kumasi and the intentions of GUTA to also close shops in Accra is evident of an expected increased cost of living which farmers cannot escape”.
It said the once revered cocoa industry that had pillared the country for over three decades and hitherto provided dignified living conditions to its farmers, purchasing clerks and district is under threat. -GNA