The National Democratic Congress (NDC) says it is appalled by the refusal of the Akufo-Addo government to release seed funds to License Buying Companies (LBCs) for the purchase of cocoa for the 2020/21 cocoa season.
The opposition party is “deeply worried that till date, not a pesewa has been released by COCOBOD to LBCs for cocoa purchases since President Akufo-Addo declared the cocoa season opened on 2nd October, 2020.”
In a press statement Thursday by the Ranking Member on Agriculture, Eric Opoku, he said, “This is a sharp departure from the long-standing practice of COCOBOD, which has been to release seed funds to LBCs for cocoa purchases immediately after the cocoa season is declared opened.”
The Asunafo South MP said the undue delay in the release of the funds to companies for cocoa purchases the sector is witnessing now is unprecedented in Ghana’s history and portends great danger for the already-collapsing cocoa sector.
“This has created a situation where only a few foreign multinational LBCs are the ones currently purchasing cocoa in the country, whiles Ghanaian indigenous LBCs in the country have been crippled and are unable to purchase any cocoa at all.
“From our assessment of the situation, many of the thirty (30) Ghanaian indigenous LBCs, who employ hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians in the cocoa sector, stand the risk of folding up and laying off their workers, if this situation persists beyond October 2020.
“Also, smuggling of cocoa is likely to increase and our gallant cocoa farmers across the country are likely to incur huge losses, if government does not release SEED funds to LBCs for cocoa purchases immediately,” he said.
According to him, “it is sad to note, that the long delay we are witnessing in the release of SEED funds to LBCs has been occasioned by COCOBOD’s continuous mismanagement of the cocoa sector under the watch of President Akufo-Addo.
“Indeed, it is this same mismanagement of the cocoa sector, that resulted in the cancelation of the free cocoa fertilization program and the shambolic implementation of interventions such as the cocoa rehabilitation program, mass spraying program, free cocoa seedling distribution program, among others, that have conspired to reduce annual cocoa production from 969,511 MT in 2016-2017 under the NDC/Mahama government, to 742,000 MT for the 2019-2020 cocoa season, thereby worsening the living conditions of cocoa farmers.”
The NDC says, in spite of the fact that gallant cocoa farmers have produced tonnes of cocoa through their toil and sweat, Ghanaian indigenous License Buying Companies (LBCs) do not have any funds to purchase the cocoa produced.
“In view of the serious problems that the persistence of this situation poses to Ghanaian indigenous LBCs, their workers, cocoa farmers and the Ghanaian economy in general, the NDC hereby demands, that the Akufo-Addo government, as a matter of urgency, releases SEED Funds to LBCs for cocoa purchases in the next 48 hours.
“This we believe, is the only way we can avert a total collapse of the already-collapsing cocoa sector.”