GHANA lost about 69,250 tonnes of cocoa (over 1.1 million bags) through smuggling to La Cote d’ Ivoire at the Sefwi Essam Cocoa Region in the Bia District in the Western Region during the 2009/10 main crop season.
The Sefwi Essam Cocoa Regional Manager of the Produce Buying Company (PBC) Limited, Mr George K. Tieku, said this at a farmers rally organised at Essam to commemorate the 10th anniversary celebration of the listing of PBC on the Ghana Stock Exchange.
It was on the theme: “Maintaining the leadership role of PBC Limited in the cocoa and shea-nut business.”
Mr Tieku said apart from affecting the national economy, the smuggling activities which were on the increase in the area, had also led to the production of poor quality cocoa beans.
He said if that negative practice was not checked, the country was likely to lose its recognition as the producer of premium quality cocoa, which was acknowledged internationally.
Mr Tieku, therefore, appealed to all cocoa farmers, workers and well-meaning Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians as well to desist from the negative act to save the economy.
The regional manager said the government used part of the revenue it derived from cocoa production to undertake development projects like roads, health and educational facilities while it had introduced certain interventions for cocoa farmers such as the mass spraying of cocoa, subsidised fertiliser and the consistent increases in the price of cocoa.
“It will be fair to reciprocate this gesture from the government and Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) by not smuggling cocoa to Cote d’Ivoire only to improve their economy to the detriment of ours,” he advised the farmers.
Mr Tieku stated that his outfit was working in close collaboration with all stakeholders in the cocoa industry to curb the menace while they hoped to improve their market share from 40 per cent in 2008/09 main crop season to about 50 per cent for the 2009/10 season in terms of cocoa purchase.
He gave the assurance that plans were afoot to reward all committed and loyal farmers who sold their produce to the PBC with certain promotional packages in the ensuing season.
He expressed gratitude to all loyal and hardworking farmers, shareholders, workers and marketing clerks who had helped the PBC to achieve its current success.
The Bia District Co-ordinating Director, Mr Abudu Amadu, said the assembly had set up a district task force to go on patrols to arrest cocoa smugglers who had now resorted to the use of motorbikes in their activities.
He added that over GH¢10,907 had so far been spent on the operations of the task force.
Mr Amadu appealed to the PBC to extend its social responsibility to assist the assembly to reshape some feeder roads in the cocoa-growing communities.
He said that would go a long way to help evacuate cocoa to the main depots on time, hence preventing the smuggling of the produce.
The Bia District Chief Farmer, Nana Nkuah, congratulated the PBC on its successful listing on the stock exchange.
The Essamhene, Nana Anim Baffour II, who chaired the function, reiterated his appeal to farmers and all actors to desist from smuggling cocoa since it benefited the recipient country at the expense of the government.
Three best farmers from the Yaw Matwa, Debiso ‘B’ and Akaatiso districts of the cocoa region, namely Messrs Kwame Bour, Charles Kyeremeh and Nana Henneh Abubakari, were honoured with parcels and certificates.