The Deputy Chief Executive in-charge of Operations for the Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod) has assured cocoa farmers in the country that by October this year it will start using digitised weighing scale.

Dr Emmanuel Opoku said the innovation is very important because farmers are complaining of weighing scale adjustment fraud perpetrated by purchasing clerks which must be a thing of the past.

“It is unfortunate that unregistered brokers support purchasing clerks in the remotest villages resort to adjusting their scales illegally,” he said.

He said this during a National Stakeholder Dialogue on Farm Gate Pricing and Income of Cocoa Farmers organized by SEND Ghana in Accra.

The dialogue was on the theme: ‘Assessing Farm Gate Pricing and Income of Cocoa Farmers: A case study of Cocoa Farmers in Agona East District.’

Country Director for SEND Ghana George Osei-Bimpeh said the innovation will help address the allegations of scale adjustment.

“We believe the move will eliminate cheating tendencies; allay fears; boost trust, as well as ensure the payment of exact producer price to our hardworking cocoa farmers in the country” he stated.

Chairperson for Cocoa Abrabopa Association, Ismaila Pomasi, urged all stakeholders in the cocoa sector to join in the fight against the smuggling of fertilisers to neighbouring countries to enable Ghanaian farmers to optimise on the benefits of the current floor price of cocoa.

He urged stakeholders to convey to farmers the key demands of the Productivity Enhancement Programme (PEP) which advocates regular pruning of infested and parasitic branches and best practices.

According to him, without a living income for cocoa farmers, cocoa will never be sustainable.

“If a farmer must choose between feeding his family and not cutting down his old trees, it isn’t a choice. Other challenges facing the sector such as deforestation and child labour will be impossible to tackle if farmers still live in poverty” he added.

Chairperson, Parliament Select Committee Food and Agric and Cocoa Affairs, Asafu Adjei said the supply of fertiliser and the introduction of improved seeds will help the country increase its production in the future.

He described pruning as a crucial agronomic and productivity enhancement activity that must be given all the needed attention to boost yields.

The forum discussed issues on the adjustment of cocoa weighing scales by purchasing clerks, access to subsidised fertilisers, cocoa mass spraying exercise and deteriorating roads in cocoa communities, which were all affecting the growth of the industry.