The Chief Executive of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Mr Isaac Osei, has warned licensed cocoa buying companies to refrain from adjusting weighing scales in order to cheat cocoa farmers and maximize profits for their companies.
The Chief Executive said a task force constituted under the auspices of the Board to inspect weighing scales at purchasing points would not spare any company or individual found indulging in the practice.
The Chief Executive was addressing a forum for Brong-Ahafo Regional and District Chief farmers, representatives of licensed buying companies in the Dormaa District as well as cocoa farmers at Dormaa-Ahenkro as part of his tour of cocoa producing areas in the region.
Mr Osei noted that any attempt by purchasing companies "to cash in on the ignorance or poverty of the innocent cocoa farmer is tantamount to jeopardizing government efforts at revamping the cocoa industry and making Ghana regain her once enviable global status in cocoa production and export".
He expressed grave concern about rumours at the international level that cocoa farmers in Ghana had engaged the services of minors on their farms to minimize costs.
The practice, Mr Osei said, did not only tarnish the image of Ghana internationally but also sought to deny such minors their right to education.
He announced that the government would soon come out with a programme to provide cocoa producing communities that had not yet been hooked to the national electricity grid with solar-propelled streetlights, while measures would be taken to extend electricity to them.
He said solar flashlights would also be sold to the farmers at subsidized cost as part of the interim lighting measure.
Mr Osei noted that prudent agricultural policies of the current government over the past six years indicated that farmers in the country, given the funds and logistics would be able to meet the nation's food requirements and produce surplus for export.
He cited the introduction of cocoa spraying, hi-tech, supply of fertilizer and other chemicals to cocoa farmers and the availability of sustained education for farmers at some areas where the government had scored creditably.
Mr Osei said these programmes had culminated in Ghana hitting the mark of 740,000 metric tonnes of cocoa last year, while the number of cocoa farmers had also increased to 720,000.
He disagreed with some purchasing companies, which maintained that bonuses to cocoa farmers were paid in bits, adding that bonuses were usually released in full to the companies and must therefore be given to the farmers as such.
The Chief Executive advised cocoa farmers to adopt the use of Akuafo cheques so as to have access to credit from the banks they transact business with.