Ghana, the world’s second leading producer of cocoa, has now resorted to importing cocoa beans from neighbouring La Cote d’Ivoire to feed it factories.
This comes after the record peak production of one million metric tonnes in the 2010/2011 crop season.
Production has subsequently declined particularly during the tenure of current Chief Executive of COCOBOD, Stephen Opuni.
One of the main users of cocoa beans, Cocoa Processing Company (CPC), shut down its operations because of alleged lack of cocoa beans.
The closure comes at the time government is bragging about adding value to the raw beans.
Seth Terkper, Finance Minister, who disclosed this to Parliament in Accra yesterday, said the country imported 15,500 metric tons of cocoa beans from La Cote d’Ivoire in the 2014/2015 crop year due to the shortfall. Strangely, the minister said he had no fact as to why CPC was shut down.
According to him, this was not the first time Ghana has been importing cocoa beans from La Cote d’Ivoire, adding it happened in 2005 and 2008.
Mr Terkper attributed the development to cocoa beans smuggling, pests and seasonal bad weather.
Cote d’Ivoire, which came out of war not quite long ago, was able to produce over 1.6 million metric tonnes of cocoa while Ghana could barely manage 700,000 metric tonnes.
Both countries cultivate almost the same area (1.7 million hectares) for cocoa production.
Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Ranking Member of the Select Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs in Parliament, indicated that if such negative trend continues in the next few years, Ghana could find its production at the low levels of the late 1990s.
“It is the poor management of the industry and not the weather which has been responsible for this disturbing trend. Low prices paid to cocoa farmers, mismanagement of chemical inputs and inadequate resources for cocoa development projects are major culprits.”
Last year, not long after government and COCOBOD jubilated over the signing of the $1.8 billion syndicated loan in Paris, government was forced to increase the producer price for cocoa in the 2014/2015 season from GH¢212 per bag of 64 kilogramme to GH¢345, an increase of only 63 percent.
CPC Plants Closure Questioned
The Minority in Parliament further raised questions over the closure of two of the Cocoa Processing Company’s processing plants.
Since January 25, this year, the Cocoa Processing Company (CPC) Limited has shut down two of its plants due to what it termed ‘operational challenges.’
Management has since directed staff working at the plants to take their annual leave.
Mr. Terkper, who indicated that he has since not been able to meet management of CPC over the issue, said he needed more time to study the situation and brief Parliament later.
He is expected to summon an emergency board meeting with the Chief Executive of COCOBOD over the issue.
By Samuel Boadi