Cocoa Merchant Limited (CML) has entreated cocoa farmers not to be enticed into smuggling beans to neighbouring countries, as the development has significant revenue implications for the country as well as the cocoa sub-sector.
According to the Managing Director (MD) of CML, Alhaji Abdul Fataa Adamu, the menace particularly robs the state of much-needed revenue for national development.
It is believed that the high prices per bag of cocoa beans offered in neighbouring countries have been fuelling the act. However, with the latest increment of 63.5 percent per bag of cocoa beans announced by government last week, it is hoped that the practice will be totally curtailed.
The increase now brings the producer price per bag of cocoa to GH₵1,308 from an initial GH₵800 per bag. This also means the gross free-on-board (FoB) price of cocoa per tonne will be GH₵20,943 from GH₵12,800 per tonne (equivalent to US$1,821 per tonne).
The CML-MD, who was speaking at the 2022/23 season launch of the Beyond Beans Foundation and Cocoa Merchants Sustainable Cocoa programme for farmers’ premium at Samreboi in the Wasa Amenfi West district of the Western Region, also noted the impact of galamsey on the cocoa business.
He noted that cocoa farmlands, especially in the operational areas of CML – notably Samreboi, Bekwai and Juaso – have been significantly impacted.
“We have lost close to 6,000 hectares (ha) of cocoa farmlands to galamseyers, which threatens realisation of the 1,000,000 metric tonnes (MT) national target envisioned for the 2023/24 season,” he stated.
He therefore entreated all stakeholders, especially chiefs, land owners and farmers, to desist from selling cocoa farmlands for galamsey activities.
Alhaji Abdul Fataa Adamu noted that the sustainable cocoa programme started in 2013 with ETG (Export Trading Group) Beyond Beans and “our strategic clients, namely Nestle, Ferrero and Mars, in five sourcing districts of the Ashanti, Western and Central Regions with about 11,886 farmers”.
This, he said, has impacted about 23,772 households in the cocoa supply chain.
The partnership with ETG Beyond Beans, he observed, has yielded a lot of positive impacts on farmers’ livelihoods and environmental conservation through addressing the drivers of deforestation and climate change, child labour identification, monitoring and remediation, and empowering communities.
“In all 5 districts, we have established 60 Village Savings and Loans (VSLA) to empower women with Gender Action and Learning Systems training and entrepreneurial skills – to identify income-generating activities, create value addition on traditional business opportunities, and sustainable incomes to support farmer’s households.
“In this direction, however, we have supplied 448,423 cocoa seedlings and 74,371 shade and multi-purpose tree seedlings to our valued farmers; to support them in implementing rehabilitation of their over-aged farms, mitigate the negative impacts of climate change, and enhance micro-climatic conditions for sustainable cocoa yields,” he stated.
Furthermore, he noted that CML and Beyond Beans partnership are implementing Accessible Soils and Sustainable Environments (ASASE) under the Cocoa and Forest Initiative, Child Labour and Remediation System.
He added that Child Labour Monitoring Tools are tailor-made interventions to conserve the national forest, improve farmers’ livelihoods and address child labour risk factors in cocoa farmers’ households.
He announced that despite the challenges of COVID-19 regarding cocoa production, in the 2022/23 season CML delivered physical cocoa of 10,188.37mt to ETG Beyond Beans.
But due to demand and supply market interruptions globally, he said Beyond Beans through ACF was able to trade 9,550mt, representing 94 percent of the produce.
The expected sustainability differential (SD) (also known as premium) amounted to some US$668,500 – which translates into US$70 per metric tonne in the prevailing interbank exchange rate of GH₵11.20 going directly to the 11,886 certified farmers who participated and successfully complied with the Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Agriculture Standard.
This brought the overall ETG Beyond Beans SD (Premium) payment to farmers to GH₵7,487,200.
He pledged to commit more funding in collaboration with partners during the coming season, with innovative sustainability interventions to realise the living income and ultimately improve farmers’ livelihoods.
The District Director of Cocoa Board (Cocobod), also touching on the menace of galamsey in the cocoa business, cautioned that if it is allowed to fester it will impact the future generations.