– Boahen Aidoo
The Chief Executive of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, has hinted work would resume on cocoa roads, which were initiated by the previous government, but were suspended following claims by the current administration that, there were discrepancies and financial irregularities in the awards of some of the contracts.
The resumption of work, will be after some 25 Consortium of Banks abroad, have loaned COCOBOD, funds to continue these roads scattered in five regions of the country where cocoa is grown.
The Chief Executive, said this at the signing of US$1.3 billion between COCOBOD and some international banks to purchase cocoa beans for the 2017/18 crop season.
The amount for this year’s crop season, which begins next month, is less than last year’s USD 1.8 under the leadership of Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni.
Mr. Boahen Aidoo ,pleaded with the banks to consider reducing their competitive rate to enable COCOBOD access more funds to embark on developmental programmes for the sector.
“It is an acknowledge fact that the cost of the facility – i.e. interest rate –is competitive, yet participating banks are encouraged to consider reducing the rate next year to enable us access more funds to improve the lot of our farmers in particular and the economy in general.
COCOBOD, may be knocking again on the doors of the Banks for further medium term financing of our upstream capital projects- i e, yield-enhancement techniques, provision of storage facilities, cocoa roads and railway infrastructure development, cocoa farm mechanization and programs for sustainable production and consumption”, he said.
Cocoa roads projects, which commenced under the erstwhile John Mahama administration, was to rehabilitate roads within regions where the crop is grown ,but upon the assumption of power, the Akufo-Addo government said, it had sighted some inaccuracies in the awards of the contracts, hence the decision to suspend the initiative.
Mr. Boahen Aidoo, who did the signing via Skype, expressed sadness about the decision by the banks to discontinue support they hitherto offered some critical institutions and communities in Ghana as part of the banks’ Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Mr. Boahen Aidoo, who described the intervention as “memorable live-improving contributions” said, it would be welcoming news if the Consortium of Banks who for decades raise syndicated loans for the cocoa sector brought back the initiative which immensely benefitted cocoa farmers and the likes of Tetteh Quarshie Memorial Hospital at Mampong-Akwapim in the Eastern Region and Ofoase cocoa community in the Central Region.
In a passionate appeal, Mr. Boahen Aidoo said, “in the last couple of years, it has been a feature of the consortium of banks in the syndication to make memorable live-saving contributions to our hardworking farmers in Ghana as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
In 2011/2012, an anesthetic machine and a borehole were provided by the participating banks for the Tetteh Quarshie Memorial Hospital Meampong-Akwapim in the Eastern Region.
In 2012/2013, it was a six-unit classroom block for the Ofoase cocoa community in the Central Region of Ghana at a cost of USD 67, 500”.
“On behalf of the Government and the people of Ghana, we wish to extent our profound gratitude to the banks for your kind gesture. We have, however, observed that this commendable practice (CSR) is not seen lately. If for any reason it slipped under the banks’ radar, we wish to prompt the consortium of banks for this year’s facility to bring to life this heart-touching profti0sharing gesture”.
The annual signing ceremony which is in its 25th year, according to Mr. Boahen Aiddo, will mean “Ghanaian cocoa farmers are going to be assured of fair and prompt payment for the fruit of their labour-that is cocoa”.
He continued “Imperatively, the annual Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) syndicated loan is the most prominent soft commodity trade finance arrangement in Africa, and one of the biggest in the world. Today’s signing ceremony marks the 25th anniversary of Ghana’s engagement in this topnotch world-class soft commodity financing”.
During the 2017/18 crop season, COCOBOD will be looking forward to purchase at least 850, 000 tonnes from farmers as the loan will support 800, 00 cocoa farm households and tens of thousands in the ancillary industries.
The COCOBOD chief assured the 25 banks government’s commitment to meet its obligations under the loan agreement adding it “Will take steps to enhance the assignments, collections and repayment processes associated with this facility”. He assured the international community to continue to have confidence in Ghana’s cocoa beans as they are the best because of the stringent measures covering the cultivation of the cash crop.
“We do assure the entire world that country to some negative media reportage on cocoa from the West African sub-region, Ghana’s cocoa is “clean cocoa”, and remains the premium coca and the benchmark of measuring the standard of cocoa in the world. In Ghana, the laws of the land and institutions work to ensure that cocoa is produced from only authorized lands”, he said.