The Cocoa Marketing Company (CMC) and Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA) have started processes to negotiate cocoa freight charges for the 2021/2022 cocoa season. 24 shipping lines ferrying Ghana’s cocoa beans to the international market will be taking turns to negotiate with the CMC and GSA to determine rates for the upcoming crop season.
The negotiating partners agreed to maintain the rates for the current season due to ravages of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Need to negotiate
Launching the 2021/2022 Cocoa Freight Negotiation Conference in Accra last week, the Managing Director of Cocoa Marketing Company, Vincent Okyere Akomeah, said for two decades now the CMC and GSA have partnered to engage carriers/shipping lines in the determination of freight charges for carriage of Ghana’s cocoa beans and other cocoa products from Ghana to destinations in Europe, the Americas and Asia among others.
He said these agreed freight charges at the annual cocoa freight negotiation conferences become applicable for each cocoa season, usually from October to September of the ensuing year. The move helps both parties to prepare and plan toward the upcoming season.
He said the conferences also continue to provide an effective platform for the GSA/CMC to engage shipping lines serving Ghana’s cocoa trade for agreements on issues affecting the carriage of Ghana’s cocoa. According to him, this 2021/22 edition of the annual freight conferences will be the third to be held in Ghana.
“While the COVID-19 restrictions have played a major part in hosting it consecutively at the same venue contrary to the established convention, we intend to take full advantage of the opportunity to foster greater local stakeholder participation to deepen relationships for mutually beneficial cooperation among key actors along the cocoa value chain and ultimately the Ghanaian economy,” he said.
He stated that it is important to indicate that the projection for produce receipts for the 2021/22 crop year inspires confidence, especially on the back of the excellent results for the current season – exceeding one million tonnes of cocoa as at August 16, 2021.
This represented a volume increase of 37 percent compared to the same period in the 2019/20 crop year.
Cocoa shipping numbers
In spite of the challenges imposed on global trade by the COVID-19 pandemic, the shipment of cocoa for the season saw a marginal drop of 2.5 percent compared to the same period in 2019/20. Nearly 500,000 tonnes of cocoa have been shipped to date in the current season. Of this amount, shipments from Takoradi accounted for 48 percent with Tema and Kumasi accounting for 39 and 13 percent respectively.
The CMC noted that while Takoradi continues to consolidate its leadership as the major take-over centre for cocoa shipments, it is quite regrettable that only a few shipping lines patronise the Takoradi Port for purposes of cocoa shipments.
A number of interventions are being put in place by government to change this state of affairs, principal among which is the construction of a new container terminal with a draught of 16-metres and an expanded area for cocoa, which is expected to be inaugurated by December 2021.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GSA, Benonita Bismarck, said although COVID-19 played a role in stalling the current rates, it cannot be certain that the story will be the same for the upcoming negotiation.
She said research is currently ongoing to understand the economic environment of the sector, and that will guide the negotiation. She added that the aim is to ensure government gets a good deal and the shipping lines also secure some good margins to stay in business, especially at this time.