…Happy Licensed Buyers Sing
Licensed buying companies, say the business of cocoa purchases was generally slow in 2014. The industry players are, however, optimistic that business will pick up gradually before closure of the main crop season.
“When you have a bounty harvest the previous year, the following year is likely to be a bit slow,” explained Emmanuel Arthur, Managing Director of Kuapa Kokoo Company Limited, a Ghanaian farmer-based organization.
The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), has projected a production target of 850,000 metric tonnes for the 2014-2015 cocoa crop season.
The upward review of the producer price of cocoa and premium payments for certified cocoa beans, are factors expected to motivate farmers to boost production.
“The season being slow does not mean we are not getting the cocoa but it is not as brisk and as bountiful as it used to be, but it is likely we can meet the target,” stated Mr. Arthur in an interview with Kumasi-based Luv FM.
He has also observed that the 62 percent increase in producer price of cocoa announced in October 2014 is attracting a lot more people to venture into cocoa farming.
“People are now rehabilitating their farms and trying to put up new farms; people are now going back to the hinterlands looking for their lands which they abandoned,”
Mr. Arthur noted. “I believe that if we will be very brave and be marching our local price against the world market price, especially anytime it goes up, then I believe a lot of people will go into cocoa farming”. Improved port activities will also enhance haulage of cocoa beans for export, he added.
Meanwhile, COCOBOD, has denied reports that some of its officials are involved in massive corruption in the distribution of fertilizer to farmers in the Wassa Amenfi West District in the Western Region.
COCOBOD’s Head of Public Relations, Noah Amenyah, who dismissed the allegation told Citi Business News ‘ Wassa Amenfi area about three months ago, brought up some allegations that some people were collecting money from them with the intention to supply them with COCOBOD’s free fertilizer.
“We investigated that and did not see any truth in that’. According to him ‘what we realized was that some farmers because they are taking the fertilizer from the district office to their communities, come to together to contribute some money so they can hire a KIA truck so when they leave that location they can move it closer to their communities.’ he said.
His assertions follow accusations by cocoa farmers in the Wassa Amenfi West District of the Western Region that some COCOBOD officials charge each farmer GHC 100 as a prerequisite to getting fertilizer. Some of the farmers who spoke to Citi Business News claimed they were made to pay the amount but they are yet to be supplied with the fertilizer.
“They took GHC 100 each from us with the explanation that the COCOBOD authorities will come and supply us with the fertilizers,” an angry farmer told Citi Business News.
She continued saying, “since we paid the money, we have not heard anything from them up till now and so we are very upset.” Another also narrated to Citi Business News that although the officers measured the size of her farm which is a basic requirement, she was not supplied with the product despite paying GHC 100.
“When the officers came here, they said I didn’t qualify to be supplied with the fertilizers. They took measurement of my farm but they said I did not qualify so they did not give me some of the fertilizer but I paid,” she fumed.
But according to Noah Amenyah ‘We have not seen any truth in any staff collecting money, even where there were allegations that staff were doing anything untoward they were severely sanctioned’.
He said. In 2014, COCOBOD introduced a free fertilizer initiative which was aimed at supplying free fertilizer to cocoa farmers to boost production. According to COCOBOD, a substantial number of cocoa farmers in the country were unable to afford and properly utilize fertilizer.
Noah Amenyah told Citi Business News ‘the procedure for the free fertilizer distribution is that, it is intended for farms that will respond appropriately to fertilizer application’.
He adds that some of the farmers don’t qualify meaning that they are in one of three categories that do not respond to fertilizer. ‘One group is those that have trees that are over aged, trees over thirty years those farms if you apply the fertilizer it will not yield any results.
The second group is those farms with tress that are diseased with swollen shoot, they have an opportunity for the cocoa rehabilitation program. The third category that don’t qualify are those with farms that have trees that are younger than ten years and those farms you can not apply compound fertilizer’, he said.