Nana Akore Korsah
Cocoa farmers in Ghana are angry with the government for refusing to release money to pay them for the past four weeks.
BUSINESS GUIDE can confirm that cocoa farmers across the country have not been paid for the cocoa beans sold to the various Licensed Buying Companies (LBCs) since the beginning of the second phase of the 2013/2014 main crop season which began in March, 2014.
The situation, the paper learnt, has seriously affected farmers, as it has inflicted untold hardship to them and their defendants.
The Sunyani District Chief Farmer, Nana Akore Korsah, who confirmed the unfortunate development to BUSINESS GUIDE, said cocoa farmers in the area and the region as whole observed the Easter festivities indoors because of lack of money.
According to him, the Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod), the regulator of the cocoa industry, had failed to release funds to the LBCs to pay farmers for the cocoa beans bought over the period.
He explained that most cocoa farmers are being starved to death by the ‘no money syndrome’ currently being experienced in the hands of the government.
Further checks by BUSINESS GUIDE at the various LBCs indicated that they have not received any funds from COCOBOD to pay the farmers.
There are 31 LBCs currently operating in Ghana with the Produced Buying Company (PBC) being the biggest, as it holds about 40 percent of the market share.
The paper gathered that COCOBOD, through the Government of Ghana, at the beginning of the 2013/2014 crop season in September 2013 arranged for a credit facility with a consortium of several international and local banks for the purchase of cocoa beans in the crop season.
The farmers claimed the said US$1.2billion loan facility approved by Parliament lodged with the Bank of Ghana had been diverted by the government, hence the lack of money to pay for the cocoa beans.
Ghana plans to harvest a total of 850,000 metric tonnes of cocoa this year (2013/2014) crop season.
However, experts fear that the target might not be achieved following the numerous challenges the cocoa industry is saddled with including lack of mass spraying and payment of incentives to farmers such as bonuses.
Meanwhile, the Macquarie Group Limited has predicted that cocoa production will fall 173,000 metric tonnes.
Ghana runs a two-cycle cocoa season consisting of the October-June main crop harvest, which is mainly exported and the July-September light crop, which is discounted to local grinders.
From Fred Tettey Alarti-Amoako, Sunyani
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