The Volta Regional branch of the Cocoa, Coffee and Sheanut Farmers Association has called for the deployment of a military task force to check the smuggling of cocoa from the region to Togo.
It said the perpetrators carried out their activities both day and night and in the full glare of state institutions mandated to supervise the borders. At a press conference in Hohoe, the Volta Regional Chairman of the association, Mr. Vincent Batse, said the problem was worse at the eastern corridors of the border with Togo.
“If the military is not deployed, we will not get half of what was purchased last year. We are only feeding Togo,” he said.
He called for the re-introduction of solar light at cocoa-producing areas where there was no electricity because it had been proved that children of cocoa farmers who benefited from the first phase of the welfare package were performing well in school and that the scheme must be considered a permanent feature in the welfare package for cocoa farmers.
The Volta Regional Manager of the Produce Buying Company (PBC) Limited, Mr. Prosper Zegbla, said the region had continued to improve in cocoa production from the 2009/2010 crop year but expressed doubt if that growth could continue in the present crop year due to the high rate of smuggling.
According to him, the PBC increased cocoa purchases from 2009 to 2012/2013, but purchases declined in 2013/14.
He said agents for the Togolese market bought everything, a development which has affected the quality of the produce.
Mr Zegbla disclosed that a kilogramme of cocoa sold for the equivalent of GH¢6.50 in Togo, amounting to GH¢437.50 per bag, while a kilogramme sold for GH¢5.60 in Ghana, amounting to GH¢350 per bag, saying the price fluctuated according to the exchange rate between the CFA and the cedi.
He said the smuggling could not be attributed to lack of funds for cocoa purchases because there was enough money to readily pay farmers in cash and through the e-zwich system.