Ghana Cocoa Board will raise US$1.3billion in syndicated loans for its operations in the 2019/2020 season, the Minister of Finance, Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta, announced in Parliament on Monday.
In addition to the annual syndicated loan of US$1.3billion, COCOBOD has initiated processes with the African Development Bank (AfDB) to raise an additional US$600million, seven-year long-term facility for the implementation of Productivity Enhancement Programmes (PEPs) and other initiatives.
The programmes include hand pollination/pruning of cocoa farms; rehabilitation of diseased and over-aged farms; irrigation in dry seasons; and farmer databases, among others.
Presenting the 2019 mid-year review and supplementary budget to Parliament, Mr. Ofori-Atta said the loan is at the instance of the joint request made by the Presidents of the Republic of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire to the AfDB.
It is meant to support revamping the cocoa industries in the two countries, and put in strategies to take control of the cocoa-price on the international market.
Mr. Ofori-Atta said – because of prudent management, Cocobod was able to pay back the syndicated loan for the 2018/19 season ahead of schedule in July 2019, instead of the scheduled date of August 2019.
He said because of the current low market price for cocoa, government had to forfeit its share of the FOB price (in export duty payments) for the second year running.
Mr. Ofori-Atta said as part of government’s efforts to protect cocoa farmers from market price volatility and income uncertainties, it had to maintain the farm gate price at GHȼ7,600 per tonne to keep faith with cocoa farmers.
“This is meant to ensure that no loss of income to the cocoa farmer arises due to the low international price of cocoa,” he said.
Cocobod has so far purchased 794,841 tonnes – representing 88.32 percent of the forecasted 900,000 tonnes for the 2018/19 season, which is expected to close at the end of September 2019.
During the 2017/18 season, COCOBOD purchased 904,000 metric tonnes of cocoa.
The minister said Ghanaians should not lose sight of the fact that the cocoa industry directly supports about 800,000 farmer families, and such a major policy will improve significantly living standards for the majority of Ghanaians.