Cocoa farmers deserve better — Minority
THE Minority in Parliament has accused the government and the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) of cheating, shortchanging and misleading cocoa farmers with regard to the prices of cocoa in the country.
The caucus was of the position that global market price of cocoa was $3,600.00 per metric tonne, a record high in 46 years, so at the current exchange rate, farmers should be receiving at least GH¢2,500.00 per bag and not the GH¢1,308.00 the government was offering them.
“Prices on the world market and the exchange rate are the two major determinants of the price of cocoa. So if it has seen the highest increase since 1977 then per the formula we have always used when we were in office from 2009 to 2016, the farm gate price per bag of cocoa should be nothing less than GH¢2,500,” the Minority Leader, Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, said.
“If you are to add the premium, in other words the bonuses we would have given to the cocoa farmers, the farm-gate price per bag should have been GH¢2,800,” he added.
Dr Forson was speaking at a Cocoa Sector Stakeholder Engagement organised by the NDC Minority in Parliament last Thursday (September 14) at Dadeisoaba in the Ahafo Region.
It was in response to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s recent announcement of an increase in the farm-gate price of cocoa from GH¢800 per 64 kilogramme (kg) bag to GH¢1,308, which the government said was the highest to be paid to cocoa farmers across West Africa in over 50 years.
It brought together farmers, representatives of various farmer unions and traditional authorities and was used as a platform to analyse the new price and how it affected farmers and the nation at large.
Dr Forson, who is the NDC MP for Ajumako Enyan Esiam in the Central Region, asserted that given the current price surge and exchange rate, cocoa farmers should be better off because cocoa was one of the country’s leading foreign exchange earners, a position which could soon change for the worst because farmers feel cheated and continuously disincentivised from planting
“Do your own calculations, at the time they were selling cocoa in 2016, the equivalent could buy at least two packets of roofing sheets. Today, even at GH¢ 1,300.00 they can only buy one packet. During times like this, they should have been better off,” he said.
He vowed that the minority would continue to use any means at its disposal to fight for what was due farmers and equally urged the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Cocobod, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, to resign his position for mismanaging the sector.
The Ranking Member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs, Eric Opoku, said the low producer price set by the government had resulted in intensive smuggling of the nation’s cocoa to neighbouring countries particularly La Côte d'Ivoire and Togo.
“The most worrying aspect is that for the first time in our history, government of Ghana has announced producer price without funds to purchase the cocoa beans for the 2023/2024 season.
COCOBOD has defaulted on the payment of 44,000mt of cocoa and has postponed shipment of same to future seasons due to lack of supply,” he lamented.
Mr Opoku, who is also the NDC MP for the Asunafo South Constituency in the Ahafo Region, also accused the cocoa regulator of insensitively paying bonuses to workers at the expense of farmers while overseeing a continuous decline of production and incurring of loses which was negatively affecting various cocoa-funded schemes and initiatives including roads, scholarships, free fertilisers, farmers’ housing scheme and provision of solar-powered boreholes among others.