Let's Resolve Cocoa Carriers' Concerns
5/12/2012 9:05:22 AM -
An industrial action by cocoa carriers threatens to derail plans by the government to maximise revenue from cocoa exports.
The carriers have decided to turn their backs on their work to press home their demands for better pay and improved working conditions of service.
As a result of the strike, articulated truckloads of cocoa beans meant for export have been lined up on roads leading to the ports of Tema and Takoradi.
The action of the carriers have implications for the cocoa industry because of reports that more than 1,000 trucks fully loaded with the beans were waiting for their cargoes to be unloaded into empty warehouses for fumigation and preservation for onward export.
Ghana prides itself as the producer of high quality beans and indeed even our chocolate is in high demand all over the world.
That is why the authorities, especially the Cocoa Marketing Company (CMC), must take immediate steps to get the recruitment agency to resolve the concerns of the cocoa loaders.
The CMC’s explanation that the workers were outsourced through an agency is legitimate but it is not enough to sweep their demands under the carpet as any wrong move can affect the fortunes of the cocoa industry.
It is easy to dismiss the demands of the cocoa loaders because they are not skilled labour and that a group of people can always be found on the street unloading the cocoa beans.
Nonetheless, it will not be fair to treat with disdain those who have helped the industry to achieve its objectives of producing more than one million tonnes of the beans at the end of the last season.
Frankly speaking, Ghana has performed creditably so far to improve cocoa yield by motivating the farmers to increase the tonnage.
The annual adjustment in the producer price of cocoa has helped a great deal to stimulate productivity and also motivate the youth to venture into cocoa cultivation.
That is not all, the government has introduced the mass spraying exercise and subsidised prices of fertiliser and other inputs such that through improved husbandry practices, yield per hectare has improved.
The government even plans the introduction of a pension scheme for cocoa farmers. Already bonuses are paid every year to the farmers.
Also, the government devotes money every year to reshape roads in cocoa-growing areas to facilitate the movement of the produce to the ports and access to marketing centres.
These efforts should not be derailed by actions that dialogue and fruitful engagement among the stakeholders can easily resolve.
It is said that when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers and in the case of the strike by the carriers, the longer the industrial action persists, the worst situation it creates in which case Ghana cannot get the best from the sweat of those who toil on the farms to earn more foreign exchange for the country.
The Daily Graphic appeals to the carriers to call off their action in the interest of the industry and mother Ghana because the discovery of oil and gas will not solve the revenue needs of the nation.
We shall continue to rely on cocoa and non-traditional export crops to raise the necessary revenue to carry out our development programmes.
We think that the CMC and the cocoa loaders, with the involvement of the recruitment agency, should go to the negotiation table immediately to iron out their differences.
Anybody who agrees to negotiate should not dialogue with an entrenched position.