The issue of Cocoa Produce Buying Companies (PBCs) adjusting their scales to cheat cocoa farmers of their due is not only sad but unconscionable.
A private broadcasting station’s latest investigative documentary ‘Missing Kilos’ exposed the stealing of cocoa beans by clerks in licenced cocoa buying companies of the country. The documentary threw light on some challenges cocoa farmers face, which include the adjustment of scales by PBCs.
Cocoa is the country’s most important agricultural commodity and mainstay of the economy. It is Ghana’s second leading foreign exchange earner – worth about 30 percent of all revenue from export, and responsible for about 57 percent of overall agricultural export.
However, despite its importance to Ghana’s development, many cocoa farming families live in poverty. The high cost of farming inputs also affects farmers’ incomes. The seasonality of cocoa farming means that incomes are not consistent year-round, and cocoa farming families experience heightened economic vulnerability and deepened poverty during off-seasons.
With low earnings and weak economic resilience, cocoa farmers struggle to meet household needs. That is why it is even more surprising that, in spite of their obvious penury, produce buying companies still try to cheat the farmer of his/her due.
As a result of the expose’, Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) says it is taking steps to rectify this anomaly. Consequently, COCOBOD is to procure the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) recommended electronic sealable weighing-scales as part of measures to stop cheating in the cocoa purchasing value chain.
This is a welcome development because the unrewarding nature of the venture has caused a number of cocoa farmers to trade-off their farms to illegal miners – which is a threat to the sustenance of the cocoa industry and, by extension, the larger economy.
Thankfully, the electronic sealable weighing-scales are tamper-proof to safeguard cocoa farmers from being short-changed by Local Buying Companies.
Deputy Chief Executive in charge of Operations at COCOBOD, Dr. Emmanuel Opoku, at a press conference said the new scales will be available for use in the next cocoa season.
He said 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. We earnestly hope that these measures will put a stop to the practice of short-changing the country’s hardworking cocoa farmers.
This is crucial to make the venture attractive for the youth who are running away from the sector.