The New Patriotic Party (NPP), has called on the general public to disregard misinformation spewed by the NDC on current development in the cocoa sector in their usual attempt to mislead the public in spite of the excitement that greeted cocoa farmers following an increase in the price of cocoa over the weekend.
Speaking at a press conference at the party’s headquarters yesterday in Accra, Director of Communications of the NPP, Richard Ahiagbah said recent announcement by the NPP to increase the prices of cocoa as well as moving the cocoa crop season to September instead of October was meant to give farmers timely access to funds as well as help them to be able to fulfil their financial responsibilities promptly.
According to him, the increase in the price of cocoa would not only increase the income of cocoa farmers, but also help them to use the extra income to improve their living standards, invest in their farms, and meet other financial needs while reducing their vulnerability to economic shocks, thereby leading to a more stable and secure livelihood.
The producer price of cocoa has gone up by 63.5% from GH¢12,800 per metric tonne (GH¢800.00 per bag) to GH¢20,943 or $1,821 per metric tonne, equivalent to GH¢1,308 per bag.
Ghana’s new producer price of cocoa is the highest in 50 years among the West African sub-regional cocoa-producing countries.
President Akufo-Addo, who made the announcement at Tepa in the Ashanti Region, said the calculations were based on the achieved Free-On-Board (FoB) price of $2,600 per tonne from the forward sales of cocoa, with an exchange rate of GH¢11.50 to a dollar.
Meanwhile, Minority Spokesperson on Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs, Eric Opoku insists the NPP government cannot claim to have done anything extraordinary when the cocoa price on the international market has soared to a record high.
The Minority group in Parliament also says the government should have increased the price of a bag of cocoa by no less than GH¢2,500, while the NDC who have also congregated at Ahafo says the NPP could do better with the current producer price.
Former President John Mahama, in a Facebook post on Monday, September 11, also argued that given the international market price of cocoa reaching a 46-year record high of $3,600, the government should have provided cocoa farmers with a more equitable share of the international FoB price.
But in a sharp response, the NPP said claims by the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) that the government has shortchanged cocoa farmers is false, and cannot be supported by actual events on the ground.
According to the party, under the NPP administration, Ghana recorded its highest-ever production of one million and forty-five thousand five hundred metric tonnes (1,045,500) in the 2020/21 crop season, while over million tonnes recorded by the country under the NDC administration was due to the ripple effects of the interventions introduced by the NPP administration under President John Agyekum Kufuor.
“Under NDC, when the achieved FoB of cocoa was US$2,950, they paid farmers US$1,800 per tonne. However, under NPP, with the achieved FoB of cocoa at US$2,600, farmers will be paid US$1,821 per tonne.
“Ghana engages in forward sales of significant volumes of its cocoa to secure the syndicated loan to pay farmers. As a result, the determination of the Producer Price takes into account the achieved Free-On-Board (FoB) Price over several months of sales.
“Since prices in the forward sales market differ significantly from spot sale prices, the most recently achieved FoB of $2,600 per tonne formed the basis for calculating the new Producer Prices,” Mr. Ahiagbah added.
The Communications Director said it was therefore incorrect to compute what one thinks should have been the producer price using the current spot price on the international market.
He further indicated that the world market price when the NDC left power was $2,950, which sharply declined to an average of $2,050 in 2017, rising only marginally to about $2,350 two years later.
He added that despite the sharp decline, the government maintained the same producer price over the period, resisting international pressure to reduce the price in response to the fall in the world market price of cocoa, and instead chose to subsidise the producer price for farmers.
He mentioned that the government therefore had to spend a fortune to absorb the losses instead of passing them on to worsen the plight of farmers.
He also described as inaccurate claims by the NDC that the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) started incurring losses only when the NPP assumed power in 2017.
He pointed out that, under the previous administration of the NDC, COCOBOD also made similar losses and in 2016, before the NPP took over power, COCOBOD, under the regime of the NDC led by President Mahama, caused significant losses of about $19 billion or more.
Mr. Ahiagbah also maintained that apart from the tremendous strides made in the cocoa sector by COCOBOD under the NPP Government, no other cocoa-producing country supports farmers with interventions, citing the example of the cocoa rehabilitation programme, mass pruning, hand pollination, mass spraying, fertiliser subsidy programme and free seedlings among others.
By Ebenezer K. Amponsah