Ghana, Ivory Coast Tackle Cocoa Smuggling

Joe Forson

Ghana and Ivory Coast have begun a partnership that will reduce the smuggling of cocoa across their borders.

Joe Forson, Managing Director of Cocoa Marketing Company (CMC) Ghana Ltd, who made this known on Wednesday in Accra at the opening of the three-day maiden Cocoa Freight Negotiations Conference, said several measures had been put in place to address the problem.

“On the producer price front, we agreed that we will announce the producer price on the same day to forestall speculating peddling. What we have realized is that if one country announces the producer price before the other, people are able to speculate that prices are likely to go up or down and that is likely to lead to smuggling. The main idea of announcing the prices on same day is to forestall smuggling.

“In terms of marketing, we do collaborate a lot with the Ivorians. We speak with them very often. We have a clear view of what both countries intend to do. There are moves for us to engage our foreign counterparts to challenge the question of fuelling prices for our farmers. So it is an ongoing process.”

Additionally, Mr Forson said both countries would negotiate the basic rate and various routes.

“At the end of the conference, it is expected that every route will have a fixed rate for all destinations.”

He said Ghana was chosen to host the conference to project government’s ‘Ghana beyond Aid’ agenda.

Touching on production, he said Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has definite objectives and goals.

“Cocoa Board is pursuing a very aggressive agenda on hand pollination where basically we have identified that because of the excessive spraying going on for all these years, we have lost a lot of insects that pollinate our crops so we want to artificially pollinate the crops.

“We think it’s one thing that would help us boost the cropper.”

Additionally, he noted that the board was working on irrigation and abandoned or diseased farms, indicating that there is a clear agenda to increase production even in the face of pummeling prices.

“You can’t say that you are going to stop production because cocoa prices have dropped. Over the years, statistics have shown that cocoa prices always come back after every three to four years. So as a strategy of the cocoa board, we want to still project production and we want to sustain the crop. We are very comfortable at where we are now.”

“For us, we produce less than 50% of what the Ivorians produce. The collaboration between Ghanaians and Ivorians has been good and successful. We have a lot of collaboration in research and the production that we put into it.”

Benonita Bismarck, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Shippers’ Authority, in a remark, said Ghana has been a pacesetter in the annual freight negotiations.

“In Ghana, it provides us with the stability and predictability that we need for our cocoa industry. It also ensures that Ghana’s cocoa maintains its premium on the international market.”

Ms Bismarck said massive expansion works were taking place at both Tema and Takoradi Ports to allow for bigger vessels and ensure quick turnaround time for all vessels.

She expressed the hope that the seaports of Ghana would continue to be the preferred destination in the sub-region for the Shipping Lines.

By Nii Adjei Mensahfio