The delay in payment for cocoa beans to farmers by Purchasing Clerks has been cited as one of the main elements fuelling cocoa-smuggling around the country’s border communities to neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire.
Ghana loses thousands of metric tonnes of cocoa every year to smuggling, which is being triggered by varied reasons such as price disparity as a result of depreciation of the cedi asagainst the major trading currencies. But some farmers have also alleged that purchasing clerks buy the commodity on credit, hence farmers trade with Ivorian merchants who pay ready cash.
In an interview with B&FT, Abenaa Saa — a farmer said: “Most of the purchasing clerks delay payments for about two or three weeks. Many of us have dire financial commitments and can’t wait for such periods, and therefore we have to sell to the Ivorian buyers who are always willing to pay in cash and also at a more competitive price”.
Although she reluctantly admitted the practice is a crime, the farmer entreated local cocoa buyers to change their mode of trade to entice farmers so as to make them willingly do business with them. Madam Saa also expressed displeasure about what she termed “blatant cheating” by the purchasing clerks, by way of adjusting the weighing scales. “It is high time government and COCOBOD paid heed to farmers’ concerns like this if they want to maximise cocoa purchases,” she added.
Touching on production, the farmer revealed that they [cocoa farmers] do not receive government’s subsidised fertilizer on time, and therefore it does not achieve the intended impact from the programme.
“We sometimes receive fertiliser when the plant is bearing flowers and fruit. At the moment, no farmer will apply fertiliser to induce them falling from the trees. Some farmers end up selling the fertilizer, or go to the extreme of keeping it,” she explained.
The farmer further indicated that other vital agro-chemicals that farmers need most to control diseases are “elusive” to them. According to her, a chemical like confidor is solely supplied by the government but farmers are not even sure of the time it will be made available to them, adding: “Any further delay in the supply of essential agro-chemicals to cocoa farmers can cause mass destruction of cocoa pods”.