The Cocoa Marketing Company (CMC), Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) and the 26 shipping lines have agreed to increase freight charges for the 2021/2022 cocoa season by 5 percent and Bunker (Fuel) Adjustment Factor (BAF) increased by 1 percent after a marathon meeting at the Ghana Shippers House. The new charges will take effect on October 1, 2021.
This means the rate, calculated per tonne, for shipping the commodity to the various locations across the world currently stands at £31.50 to the United Kingdom (UK); €51.45 to the Northern Continent; €57.75 to Estonia; €58.80 to Mediterranean Europe; US$94.19/99.48 to the Far East and US$109 to Brazil.
The reasons that resulted in the decision predominantly were events in the global shipping market, which include increasing charter rates, container shortage and rising bunker prices. Also, the consideration of the need to keep a competitive freight rate for Ghana’s cocoa especially in the light of competition from neighboring countries played a role.
Some of the shipping lines in the stakeholders’ meeting, dubbed Cocoa Freight Negotiation Conference, held at the Ghana Shippers’ House in Accra to agree on prices were, Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Company, ZIM Integrated Shipping Services Ltd, Grimaldi and COSCO Shipping Lines.
Addressing the conference before the negotiations, the Deputy Minister for Transport, Fredrick Obeng Adom noted that he is confident the negotiation leaves all parties in a state that would help them continue to stay in business.
He acknowledged that the future for cocoa looks brighter as the industry has recorded its most significant yield/crop ever obtained in the history of the country. The last data from COCOBOD revealed that, a total of over 1,042,018 tonnes had been declared purchased.
This success was chalked on the back of various Productivity Enhancement Programmes ranging from mass pruning, hand pollination, irrigation, rehabilitation of disease-affected farms and enhanced fertilizer application adopted and implemented by Ghana Cocoa Board. Per records, CMC has taken over 1,038,000 out of which total evacuation sums up to approximately 970,000 tonnes of cocoa.
The Deputy Minister added that: “This result by default means Cocoa Marketing Company (CMC) recorded an appreciable increase in its cocoa receipts and evacuation (export and local deliveries) which also cascaded to your businesses (shipping lines). The Ghana Cocoa Board realizes the enormity of responsibility placed on its subsidiary by this feat and remains committed and fully supportive of the CMC to deliver on its strategic objectives,” he said.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shippers Authority, Benonita Bismarck, on her part used the occasion to acknowledge the cooperation and support of the shipping lines who have kept faith with the nation by promoting trade and serving as trusted conduits between the Cocoa Marketing Company and the buyers for the international transportation of Ghana’s cocoa.
CMC Takoradi Shipments
Managing Director of the Cocoa Marketing Company (CMC), Vincent Okyere Akomeah, noted that even though a chunk of the nation’s cocoa comes from the Western Region many shipping lines are reluctant in docking their vessels at the Takoradi Port to cart the commodity.
“It was also observed during the season under review that some vessels skipped either the ports of Takoradi or Tema for various reasons. Only four containerized shipping lines called the Takoradi Port although Takoradi port handles the highest volumes of our shipments i.e. 47 percent of our total shipments, with Tema and Kumasi accounting for 40 percent and 13 percent respectively”.
“This situation invariably distorts our shipment plans with all of its attendant adverse effects on our operations. We continue to expect prompt delivery of shipping documents and our standard remains 24 hours after the vessel has sailed,” he said.
The 2020/2021 Cocoa Season, was bedeviled with disruptions in the global supply chain as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Global commodities tanked, and the CMC was affected. It had to restructure its operations to accommodate the wrath of the pandemic. But in all, it has been a good cocoa year with the help of key stakeholders such as GSA, shipping lines, buyers, insurers, etc.