As the coronavirus pandemic bites hard on global economies, cocoa farmers are making a case for Ghana to create a local demand for the industrial use of cocoa so as not to overly rely on international markets.
At Korboe Farms – a 45-hectare cocoa farm at Akyem Tafo in the Eastern Region, the harvest of 160 cartons of cocoa beans this cocoa crop season is expected. But there is a problem, the novel coronavirus has left farmers here worried about the inability of their external buyers to engage in business.
The CEO of Korboe Farms and winner of the 2019 International Cocoa Awards, Samuel Tetteh Korboe said, the coronavirus pandemic calls for an urgent relook into the creation of local market and improved warehousing mechanism for cocoa beans.
“This challenge is worldwide. That’s why I feel hurt realizing Ghana does not have a warehouse for storage of cocoa beans. This could be the best time to store these beans and begin our own local processing. So that instead of exporting seeds that nobody will buy now, we can improve local markets”
The month of May is the pruning season for cocoa farmers in Ghana. Busily trimming the branches of his cocoa trees, Amos – another cocoa farmer explains the extent to which the coronavirus has disrupted his income.
According to him, “the emergence of covid-19 has scared cocoa farmers. This business is all we’ve got. We wonder how cocoa sales will boom this year. We know the government has its priorities on covid-19 but we implore for some interventions.”
Plunging cocoa bean prices are not only threatening revenues, of which Ghana has already lost $1 billion in the past month and a half, but also stalling the government’s current syndication process for loan facilities for the 2020/2021 crop season.
Already, Chief Executive of Cocobod, Joseph Boahen Aidoo has revealed the pandemic has disrupted global chains of cocoa saying this will slow the acquisition of the $3.5 billion cocoa syndication loan for the 2020/2021 cocoa crop season.
This strains Ghana’s renewed commitment to improve refinement processes and guarantee that over 50 per cent of domestically produced cocoa beans will be processed.
While difficult to estimate future import and export sales, the pandemic more broadly is continuing to disrupt global supply chains and affecting manufacturing operations around the world, a sector that contributed up to 10% of Ghana’s GDP in 2018.