Management of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has moved to end the practice of weighing-scales tampering with fresh preventive and punitive measures.
Cocoa buyers in the West African nation have come under fire after a media exposé revealed systemic cheating of cocoa farmers through adjustment of analogue weighing scales.
According to the Multimedia Group’s investigative report ‘Missing Kilos’, some cocoa buyers dishonestly adjust their weighing-scales to steal as much as 100 kilogrammes of cocoa beans per farmer.
Now responding to the development in the media at a higher level, the country’s cocoa sector regulator, Ghana Cocoa Board, commended the work done by Multimedia – though calling it “belated”, as it did not capture measures it has already introduced to address the canker, including electronic scales.
Deputy Chief Executive of COCOBOD in charge of operations, Dr. Emmanuel Opoku, told the media in Accra that management has over the past couple of years adopted stricter measures to eliminate the canker of cheating poor cocoa farmers.
“COCOBOD has put in place a punitive measure to surcharge any defaulting LBC with the monetary equivalent of the aggregated weight from cocoa sheds across the country that the LBC in question may have short-changed the unsuspecting farmers, once GSA confirms adjustment of such weighing-scales,” he said.
In addition, the regulator upon advice from the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) last year adopted the introduction of Electronic Scales as a preventive measure to scale tampering.
Dr. Opoku reiterated that the reform or preventive measure involves the introduction of GSA-recommended electronic sealable weighing-scales which meet a set of tamper-proof standards – so that scale adjustment will be a thing of the past.
He added that to provide the needed guidance and ensure a smooth rollout of this reform, the decision has been taken to import electronic sealable weighing scales, starting this year, and distribute them at a cost to the LBCs.
The Cocobod management, however, explained its electronic scales will only be available from 2021, thus until then vigilance of all stakeholders is critical.
“Obviously, continuous monitoring and policing will be necessary to ensure the effective implementation of such a measure to eliminate a systemic problem. The media’s work in shining a light on the situation and improvement as we progress, as well as the vigilance of our field staff and the cocoa farmers themselves, will together play a crucial role in eliminating this cocoa canker,” the Cocobod Deputy Chief noted.
Dr. Emmanuel Opoku stressed that Cocobod’s initial target was to start from this October (2020), but was not able to get the times correct, everything correct, until recently; so starting this year is practically impossible.
Cocobod has in view of the ensuing development targetted next year to fix it – because when the electronic scales arrive, all LBCs must use them.
Cocobod will also require the Ghana Standards Authority to ensure that everything is intact, so targetting next year is for Cocobod to make sure all measures are effectively put in place for a successful roll out in 2021.