…. signs US$1.5bn financial agreement with 28 banks
The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has signed a US$1.5billion financial agreement with a consortium of foreign and local banks to finance the purchase of cocoa beans for the 2021/2022 crop season.
This season’s financial agreement is an increase of US$200million compared to the 2020/2021 crop season’s US$1.3billion. COCOBOD was able to secure the facility at an interest rate of 1.1 percent plus libor from 28 lenders – below the 1.75% plus libor it got for the 2020/2021 crop season.
The first tranche of money is expected to hit accounts of the Bank of Ghana in the first week of October this year.
COCOBOD, which broke a 10-year cocoa production record with 1,045,000 metric tonnes of cocoa beans, is hopeful of exceeding the current record – hence the decision to increase the facility for the next season.
Speaking via a Zoom conference from Berlin Germany, the Chief Executive of COCOBOD Joseph Boahen Aidoo said COCOBOD had received commitment in excess of US$1.7billion, but settled for US$1.5billion.
“We were able to achieve this feat because of the goodwill that COCOBOD has; because over the last four years COCOBOD has repaid the loan two months before its deadline,” he said.
He explained that the level of interest from investors is the confidence lenders have in Ghana’s cocoa sector as a reliable venture.
Mr. Aidoo announced that even though COCOBOD is targetting cocoa production of 1,500kg per hectare by 2025, the various measures put in place over the last four years have resulted in some farmers achieving the target ahead of time.
“These targets were calculated and we did a lot with the farmers to make sure we increase production, ultimately to benefit the lives of farmers who have been the backbone of our economy for decades.”
Citing some of the measures introduced, Mr. Aidoo mentioned that there is a deliberate move to increase extension officers to farmers, to teach new methods as well as supplying fertiliser to them and engaging in massive pruning of cocoa trees.
“We are going to challenge ourselves to make sure we accomplish more than we have done for the 2020/2021 crop season. We need everybody on board; the LBCs, the farmers, extension officers, government and COCOBOD.”
He added that COCOBOD is also distributing 140 million hybrid seedlings to farmers under the Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme, aimed at replacing old and low-yielding cocoa trees.
“We are doing all these to attract the youth into cocoa farming. The sector is looking more blissful. We want the livelihood of our cocoa farmers to improve.”
Mr. Aidoo announced that about 156,000 hectares of diseased cocoa trees have been identified, and work is being done to replace such trees.
Addressing a gathering at the Head Office of Standard Chartered Bank Ghana, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, reiterated that the goodwill enjoyed by COCOBOD from paying back loans promptly must be protected.
He pledged that the funds will be used for their intended purpose of paying cocoa farmers at the Point-of-Sale.
“Since the Nana Akufo-Addo government assumed office, the cocoa farmer has been a priority. We intend to continue on this track.”