- seeks US$1.5bn for the 2021/2022 season
The Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, has indicated that despite the dreadful impact of COVID-19 on economic activities, cocoa production for the 2020/2021 crop season far exceeded its projected target – rendering the syndicated loan secured for the crop year woefully inadequate.
According to the CEO, with the crop season even yet to come to an end, about 1,041,258.63 metric tonnes of cocoa has been recorded as at last week – which is far beyond the set target for which a syndicated loan worth US$1.3billion was acquired.
“In fact, as you all may be aware, we have set a new record with our cocoa production; as of last week production stood at 1,041,258.63 metric tonnes. I believe that by close of the 2020/2021 crop season, we will be at around 1,060,000 metric tonnes.
“Last year, we syndicated US$1.3billion for the 2020/2021 crop season; but because the production of cocoa far exceeded our projections, the money t we went for did not take us anywhere. So, within the year we had a lot of problems; it took Licenced Buying Companies (LBCs) like Olam that were buying about 70,000 metric tonnes ahead of us and paying in advance to support the sector,” he said.
Based on the aforementioned situation, COCOBOD is considering increasing its loan target for the 2021/2022 crop season to US$1.5billion.
“For the coming season, we are going in for US$1.5billion. We have already done the necessary arrangement but we are yet to sign, and hopefully by the middle of October we should have the first draw-down,” he stated.
Mr. Boahen Aidoo made these remarks in his address at the annual Olam Cocoa Managers Conference – a five-day retreat by the company to discuss and assess the year under review, sharpen skills of managers and acquire new ideas for the upcoming crop season.
In spite of the recorded boom for the year, the CEO revealed that a lot of purchased cocoa beans are still stuck in warehouses due to inability to export the commodity.
“Indeed, shipment could not be done; and as we speak today, we are still holding onto a lot of cocoa in our warehouses. Right now, when you go to Kajabi, Abuakwa, Tema our warehouses are full, and this is also affecting external marketing of the cocoa as well as influencing the terminal market price,” he added.
Cocoa Management System
The COCOBOD CEO indicated that the European Union is determined to legislate against deforestation and cocoa production in forest reserves. As a result of this, COCOBOD has rolled out the Cocoa Management System (CMS) to make sure the country is not found wanting or on the EU blacklist.
The CMS is an integrated comprehensive database that COCOBOD is collecting, and when fully developed will interlink all operation activities with key stakeholders and players in the industry. “This database will interlink the Licenced Buying Companies, pollinators, banks, weather systems and every other thing that relates to cocoa; so that farmers will even receive data on when to apply fertiliser among others,” he indicated.
The data-gathering process for this purpose is underway and currently happening in the Western, Ashanti and Eastern Regions. It is expected to cover all cocoa-growing areas by close of the year.
“Now, when that’s done it means any farms existing in the protected forestry will be exposed because a GPS is being used to connect the farms to the database. So, once a farmer encroaches into a forest, the system will expose him. And if your data is not on our system, you will not be able to sell your cocoa,” he said.