… Multimillion dollar waste, smuggling & naked thievery to end
The Herald, has picked up reports about approaches to the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) from an international firm towards cutting down on theft and other warehouse losses which the institution has been recording over the years.
The losses, have been witnessed in the areas of fertiliser, and insecticides among other agro inputs running into hundreds of millions of dollars.
Aside from the naked stealing of these products for COCOBOD’s warehouses across the country due to weak checks and balances on the part of officials, some of these agrochemicals, are also left to expire and discarded, despite having been bought at exorbitant costs.
In this regard, a modernized system is being proposed to the management of COCOBOD known as Digital Warehouse that will phase out the laborious manual paperwork by confirming both what is in stock and what leaves the warehouses for accounting and auditing purposes.
The bank-related technology, The Herald, has picked will enable all levels of management, including the COCOBOD Chief Executive, the two deputies in charge of the Finance and administration, as well as Agronomy on the same platform with other top-level, mid-level and low-level officers to monitor everything that gets in and leaves their warehouses.
The checks, this paper has picked up, will also encompass the expiry dates of all agrochemicals in stock to ensure that they are used for the purposes they were acquired, on time.
The Herald, is informed the integrated monitoring system to be put in place will ensure an easy and immediate verification by auditors, and not after many months after the items cannot be tracked. This is meant to save Cocobod money.
It is also to cut down on auditors having to move from place to place to verify figures that they had been supplied with. This is because there is an instant query as a result of daily reports generated by this digital integrated system.
It also curbs the incidents of smuggling of COCOBOD’s inputs into Ghana’s neighbouring countries and enables all products to be tracked to the farmers for whom the inputs were procured.
Various private companies are said to have already deplored this technology in various forms as part of their financial integration.
“You’re hooked to one network and with that one, you cannot steal, you cannot pass wrong entries and you are able to track where your inputs are going. This is because the main problem of COCOBOD is input costs. You’re spending so much on inputs for the benefit of the farmer.
“Now farmers are complaining that they don’t get it adequately. If you say you brought a spraying machine, you don’t have a system for monitoring the distribution; it is all manual but if it’s electronic, the person will sit up. Not that he takes a 100 but only 50 goes to the field”, said one of the persons involved in the discussion who wouldn’t want to be named.
The proposed system also gives an early alert at least three months before the expiry of the agro product.
Sometime last year, Charles Amenyaglo, the Director of Special Services at COCOBOD, cautioned cocoa farmers to desist from smuggling and selling of subsidised cocoa fertilizers.
He said any farmer or buyer of such subsidised cocoa fertilizers would be arrested and prosecuted.
Mr Amenyaglo gave the warning in an interview with the media in Takoradi after four suspected cocoa fertilizer smugglers, were put before the Takoradi Port Circuit Court B, for allegedly smuggling 328 bags of subsidised cocoa fertilizers.
He said Cocoa fertilizer smuggling was becoming a torn in flesh of COCOBOD, stressing that more than 2,000 bags of cocoa fertilizers were retrieved from smugglers across the country last year alone.
Mr Amenyaglo pointed out that if the practice was not nipped in the bud COCOBOD would not be able to achieve its aim of increased cocoa yield since nutrients on many cocoa farms were depleted. He said it was an offence punishable by law to be engaged in such a practice, noting that the fertilizers were highly subsidised.
He said they procured the fertilizers at 560 cedis a bag and sold them to the farmers at 80 cedis a bag, which they transported to the farming communities and handed
over to the farmer cooperatives for distribution to their members.
Mr Amenyaglo had expressed worry that some unscrupulous people had been unlawfully purchasing cocoa fertilizers delivered to cocoa farmers at highly subsidised rates, adding “Some of them have made it their business to be going around buying cocoa fertilizers, which have been delivered to the farmers at their doorsteps.
The four suspects, Amadu Combat 55, Kingsley Baah Wiredu, 32 driver, Issaka Mbawuni, 38 and Dawuda Yakubu 44 were arrested at Samenaboi in the Western Region around 0200hours on Sunday, September 11, 2022, with trucks load of COCOBOD subsidised fertilizers.
She, therefore, asked the prosecution to collaborate with COCOBOD officials to conduct thorough investigations into the case and come up with the appropriate charges against the four suspects.