Ghana loses cocoa beans to smuggling activities in Volta/Oti
The country is losing tons of moist cocoa beans to activities of smugglers in the Volta and Oti regions to neighbouring Republic of Togo.
Date Created : 8/2/2023 12:00:00 AM : Story Author : Edward Williams /Ghanadistricts.com
This is because of dilapidated cocoa warehouses, some with perforated roofing sheets and lack of renovation of the ones destroyed by rainstorm. The Jinijiso, Teteman, Guaman, Lolobi Kumasi structures that served as buying points as well as those Hlefi, Saviefe and Dodome, are nothing to write home about.
Some cocoa farmers, who spoke to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) disclosed that the nature of the structures did not assure them of the safety of their cocoa beans before purchase.
An intelligence picked up by the GNA revealed that farmers were comfortable selling their cocoa beans to buyers from Togo due to ready market and cash as the Produce Buying Company, designated to purchase the commodity for the government, was sometimes unavailable for the purpose.
Worst of all, buyers from Togo purchase moist cocoa beans thereby, reducing the workload on the farmers in ensuring that their beans get dried since buyers from Ghana only paid for dried cocoa beans.
In October 2022, the Government of Ghana increased the price of a bag of 64 kg dried cocoa beans to GH¢800 from GH¢660. Nana Kwame Abass, then Volta/Oti Regional Chief Cocoa Farmer, said farmers in the two regions had accepted the new cocoa price announced by the government.
He said although farmers aimed to receive GH¢1,000 per bag, they noted that interventions such as the supply of plantain suckers, nursery of cocoa, mass spraying, supply of wellington boots, fungicide and others by government reduced the price to the GH¢800, which was acceptable.
However, the buyers from Togo between January and March 2023, are buying a bag of moist cocoa beans at GH¢1,600 but later dropped to GH¢1,360, which is still higher than the Ghanaian price. With inference, the Produce Buying Company (PBC) may be recording low tonnage of the commodity or one of the lowest in years.
An IT man, known as Akpakpatsi, who hunts and traverses the forest enclave around Lolobi and Likpe, told the GNA, the countless times he had encountered cocoa smugglers transporting the commodity at night to unknown destinations.
Attempts by GNA to access the cocoa purchases made in the Volta and Oti regions proved futile but it is believed that tens of thousands of tonnes of cocoa have been lost to smuggling in and through the regions annually.
A veteran cocoa farmer disclosed to the Ghana News Agency that the absence of the warehouses could not be a factor or a basis for farmers to smuggle the moist cocoa beans and should not also be the case for the dried ones. She said the government must be committed to delivering promises made to farmers and make sure every single farmer benefitted from any incentive from the government.
The veteran recommended that security at the various borders be frequently reorganised.Mr Gabriel Nukunu, Volta/Oti Regional Manager, PBC when contacted by GNA, confirmed that he received complaints on the state of the warehouses and had forwarded the same to the appropriate authorities to be addressed.
He could not speak about the issues of smuggling and purchasing of the cocoa beans since he had not received approval to speak to the media.A visit to the Lolobi Kumasi warehouse saw one Mr Boniface Addae, who identified himself as a Chief Carpenter and was working on part of the warehouse which housed some properties and the officer who buys the cocoa beans.
Mr Wilson Kwami Agbanyo, Kadjebi District Chief Executive (DCE), in October 2022, appealed to Assembly members to help stop the smuggling of cocoa to the neighbouring Republic of Togo. “The menace, which is on the rise in the district, has to stop,” he said.