Opuni Puts Cocoa Smugglers In Tight Corner

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Offers Higher Price & Incentives As Cote d’ Ivoire’s Currency Falls

By Alfred K Dogbey

Dr. Stephen Opuni-led management of COCOBOD, has given Ghanaian cocoa farmers across the country, the highest producer price ever and other juicy incentives, putting cocoa smugglers, especially those involved in the illegal activity to Cote d’ Ivoire, in a very tight corner.

Already, Ivorian currency, CFA Franc is depreciating against the Cedi; a further indication that the cocoa smuggling business to that country is becoming less and less lucrative.

Additional information available to The Herald is that Cote D’ Ivoire, now pays GH¢320 compared to Ghana’s GH¢350 per a bag of cocoa.

Cote d’ Ivoire, is the leading producer of cocoa in the world, but does not give the kinds of incentive Ghana gives its cocoa farmers.

Indeed, Dr. Opuni, also announced that apart from the unprecedented 62.74 percent producer price increment from GH¢3,392.00 per tonne to GH¢5,520.00 per tonne for the 2014/15 cocoa season, special incentive packages have also been arranged for the cocoa farmers, as well as cocoa growing-areas.

These special packages, he mentioned are free supply of cocoa seedlings, free fertilizers, construction of all deplorable roads in cocoa growing communities, building new school blocks, community libraries etc.

He also mentioned the extension of mass spraying of cocoa, as well as the expansion of the cocoa scholarship package to cover more people in cocoa producing areas across the country.

The COCOBOD boss, told The Herald that the arrangements were in line with his mandate of doing good business with the poor Ghanaian cocoa farmers in ensuring that cocoa smuggling becomes a thing of the past, with farmers enjoying better remuneration for their labour.

Dr. Opuni, said this yesterday during a press briefing held at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, where the 2014/2015 Cocoa Producer Price was announced.

The press conference, which was jointly addressed by the Minister of Finance, Seth Tepker and Dr. Opuni was attended by the major stakeholders from the cocoa growing regions in the country.

In a statement, the Finance Minister said, “The PPRC has reviewed upwards the producer price of cocoa from GH¢3,392.00 per tonne to GH¢5,520.00 per tonne for the 2014/15 cocoa season as compared to the previous season, this amount represents an increase in price of GH¢2,128.00 per tonne or 62.74%”.

The new price which takes effect today, October 3, according to the Minister, “…translates into GH¢345 per bag of 64 kg gross which represents about 75 percent of the net FOB”.

He indicated that, “COCOBOD and Government have decided to pay bonus to farmers at the time of sale of their produce. Accordingly, an additional amount of GH¢5.00 per bag of 64kg gross weight has been approved”.

Mr. Terkper mentioned that, “each bag of 64kg gross weight of cocoa sold by the farmer, the farmer shall be paid GH¢345.00 per bag plus GH¢5.00 as bonus. LBCs are to take note of this and pay our cherished farmers accordingly”.

He noted that “LBCs are to ensure that farmers are paid at the time of the sale of their produce GH¢350 per bag of 64Kg gross weight”.

“Farmers must insist that at the time of sale they are paid GH¢350.00 per bag of 64kg gross weight of their produce. This brings the price and bonus per tonne of cocoa to GH¢5,600.00 (US$1,750.00), which is equivalent to 76% of the net FOB. All LBCs must comply”.

“The last two seasons saw the average FOB prices of cocoa used for the review of the Producer Price declining from US$3,000 in 2011/12 to US$2,300 in 2012/13. The 2013/14 season even experienced a further decline in the price to US$2,130.00 per tone”.

The statement noted that, “Government was compelled to drastically reduce its share of the 2013/14 cocoa export duty, in order to raise the producer price paid to our hardworking cocoa farmers. That decision was taken to increase the earnings of farmers so as to enhance their welfare”.

He said, “There have been positive developments on the world cocoa market since the last review of the Producer Price in October 2013. It is against these positive price developments that the Producer Price Review Committee met and decided on the upward review of the Producer Price”.

According to him, “during the 2008/09 crop year, Government set up a Stabilization Fund with annual contributions from the FOB price as a risk mitigating mechanism against a fall in international cocoa prices. The primary objective of the Fund was to apply it to sustain the earnings of cocoa farmers in challenging times like was experienced during the 2013/14 cocoa season”.

He told journalists that, “The PPRC has decided once again to re-establish the Stabilization Fund so as to be able to cushion farmers should the world market price begin to decline as we move into the future”.

“The PPRC also approved other rates and fees for all other stakeholders in the industry. These include the Buyers’ margin, Hauliers’ rate, warehousing and internal marketing costs as well as fees for disinfestations, grading and sealing.

The margins, rates and charges have been increased substantially over last year’s levels in order to ensure that other key stakeholders operate at profitable levels to sustain the cocoa industry”.

He emphasized that the government “will continue to support other interventions including the pests and diseases control (Mass Spraying) for farmers, and the fertilizer application programme to increase the productivity of our cocoa farmers”.

“Government also commits itself to continuing with the rehabilitation and replanting of cocoa farms, the provision of 50 million free improved seedlings over the next three years to farmers to help replant diseased infected trees that would be removed over the period”, he reiterated.

“Government will rehabilitate existing schools, construct new ones and provide them with essential social amenities”.

“To enhance the welfare of our cocoa growing communities, Government is supporting COCOBOD to expand its cocoa roads rehabilitation programme. COCOBOD has also put in place a child education support programme which aims at building schools and libraries in deprived cocoa communities” adding “government will thus continue to support COCOBOD to play its role as a major contributor to the economic development of Ghana”.

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