COCOBOD, from October, 2022 will begin the issuance of electronic cash to farmers for all cocoa purchases, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, Dr. Emmanuel Opoku has said.
Currently, COCOBOD buys all cocoa with physical cash from farmers across the country, but the trend of paying hard cash to farmers would be phased out in cocoa trade in the country to further promote the cashlite agenda in the country.
“We are almost on the verge to implement the cocoa management system (CMS) which would perform a number of notable functions in the production chain, to ensure transparency in the sector,” Dr Opoku told the B&FT in Accra.
The cocoa management system, according to COCOBOD, will host the register for all cocoa farmers in the country by the beginning of 2022 and will have information on farm owners, location of the farm, size of farm and household information.
The CMS, upon full rollout and implementation, will issue a unique identity card to every farmer for any cocoa transactions, with COCOBOD affirming that without the ID, a farmer cannot sell cocoa.
The system will also have information on farm owners, location of the farm, size of farm and household information and will track incidents of child and forced labour in Ghana’s cocoa sector.
Other reasons for the CMS initiative are to track the progress of children who live in cocoa communities – number, age profile and their educational profile, and to ensure that cocoa is produced in a sustainable manner.
“By this method, COCOBOD wants to be ahead of the upcoming EU due diligence legislation which, as part of its provisions, would frown on cocoa cultivation in reserved forests and the use of child labour,” Dr Opoku said.
It is expected that when passed, the EU legislation on cocoa, would blacklist cocoa from countries that uses child labour and cultivation in forest reserves.
COCOBOD however maintains that the CMS, will ensure that cocoa is produced in an environmentally approved area, without land degradation to meet major concerns of the international community, thereby, addressing issues of environmental protection, forest degradation and child and forced labour.
The registration of the farmer and the farm on the CMS would enable COCOBOD and international buyers to have a specific address of the farm which can be accessed by the buyer in Europe to determine whether the cocoa is purchased from a red zone or green zone.
“The platform will also be used to deliver inputs to farmers’ directly through electronic wallets and such monies would be nontransferable to third parties. CMS would also ensure financial inclusion for farmers and would enhance the possibilities of accessing credit from banks due to available data of the farmers,” Dr. Opoku indicated.
About 770,000 children are said to be engaged in child labour in Ghana’s agriculture value chain, particularly in cocoa production, where 92 percent of these minors are exposed to at least one form of hazardous labour, according to the United States Department of Labour.
It is in this vein that COCOBOD seeks to introduce the cocoa management system to ensure transparency in the cocoa production value chain.