14.01.2011 Presidency

Statement by the Cocoa farmers

14.01.2011 LISTEN
By Ministry of Information


Your Excellency Professor J.E.A. Mills, President of the Republic of Ghana, Your Excellency, the Vice President, the Chief of Staff, Honourable Minister of Finance and economic Planning, Ministers of State, Chief Executive of Ghana Cocoa Board, colleague farmers, ladies and gentlemen. We must first of all thank Your Excellency for granting our request to meet you at such a short notice.

The purpose of meeting you today is to share with you our joy at what you and your government have been doing for cocoa, coffee and shea nut farmers of Ghana,

Your Excellency, on behalf of Cocoa farmers in Ghana, the Ghana Cocoa Coffee and Shea nut Farmers Association (GCCSFA) wishes to express our gratitude to you and your Government for the unprecedented increases in the producer price of cocoa since you assumed power in January 2009.

The latest producer price for cocoa was announced on Tuesday 28th September 2010 by the Minister of Finance Dr. Kwabena Duffuor on behalf of the Government of the National Democratic Congress led by His Excellency, Professor John Evans Atta Mills.

For the records, the Producer Price of cocoa has seen the following movements:

a. The price for a bag of cocoa of 64kg was GH¢ 108 (GH¢, 632 per tonne) for the 2008/09 cocoa season.

b. The government of the NDC increased the price of a bag to GH¢ 138 (GH¢ 2,208 per tonne) for the 2009/10 cocoa season.

c. The government further increased the price of a bag of cocoa to GH¢ 150 (GH¢ 2, 400 per tonne) within the 2009/10 cocoa season on January 7th 2010.

d. The latest producer price increase by government from GH¢ 150 a bag of 64 Kg (GH¢ 2,400 per tonne) to GH¢ 200 for a bag (GH¢ 3,200 per tonne) for the 2010/11 cocoa season is an act which is unprecedented.

6. This latest producer price is 75per cent of the international price which is more than the 70% government has committed itself to paying cocoa farmers.

7. The government further directed Cocobod to pay ail outstanding bonuses due cocoa farmers for the 2009/10 cocoa season latest by the end of December 2010.

8. Your Excellency, we are happy to say that Cocobod has announced as per your directive, payment of the bonus of GHc2.50 per bag or GHc40 per tonne to farmers.

9. In addition to the producer price guaranteed us in Ghana, (which is not the case in our neighbouring producing countries), the government of Ghana provides cocoa farmers with additional incentives which are also not available to our neighbours. These additional incentives include the following:

a. Provision of scholarships to wards of cocoa farmers,

b. The free mass spraying of cocoa farms.
c. Subsidized fertilizer under the Hi-tech programme.

d. Monetary payment to farmers whose cocoa trees are cut down due to the Swollen Shoot Virus Disease.

e. The farmers Housing Scheme,
10. The provision of free solar lights and torch lights to farmers in remote farming communities by Cocobod has impacted positively on the farmers. We appeal to your government to expand the coverage to all farmers and communities that are outside the coverage of the national electricity grid system.

11. We are patiently waiting for the final take off of the Farmers Pension Scheme. We are aware that the background work for the eventual take off is far advanced. We believe that implementation of the scheme will be part of the Action Year agenda.

12. Your Excellency, there is an important issue that we wish to bring to attention. We were all witnesses to the smuggling of cocoa from Ghana to our neighbouring countries in the just ended cocoa season.

13. Commentators on the issue have always looked at only the prices paid in Ghana against the prices paid in our neighbouring countries. If we have to add the incentives to the cash paid, then we will realize that our prices are far higher than the prices paid by our neighbours.

14. We have educated our farmers never to collaborate with anybody who approaches them for buying cocoa with the intention of smuggling. We will also want to entreat all stakeholders in the cocoa industry, especially, the Agents of the Licensed Buying Companies (LBCs), and some security personnel who facilitate the smuggling to desist from these acts.

We must however admit that our investigations have revealed that your unprecedented price increases have tremendously reduced the smuggling of Cocoa but smuggling of petroleum products are now on the increase especially in the Yawmatwa areas of the Western Region. What is even more alarming is the establishment of a new filling station at Pillar 34 junction at Yawmatwa about 2 kilometers to the Ivory Coast boarder.

It is even interesting to note that there is no settlement whatsoever between the filling station and the border post. This situation makes smuggling of petroleum products much easier.

Your Excellency, if something is not done about the position of this filling station, the consequence is any body's guess.

15. We also entreat all the Licensed Buying Companies (LBCs) to ensure that their weighing scales are calibrated as required by law and should refrain from manipulating their scales to cheat farmers. With the unprecedented increase in the producer price, there is the temptation by the agents of the LBCs to manipulate their scales to cheat the cocoa farmer.

16. We the farmers will report any such negative acts by the LBCs to the appropriate authorities for the necessary sanctions to be taken, in addition to any action taken by the authorities; we as farmers will also take our own against such LBCs include the organized boycott of sales of our produce to such LBCs.

17. On our own, we have initiated action to acquire weighing stones to counter-check the weights recorded by the agents of the Licensed Buying Companies. We need support to facilitate the acquisition of more of the weighing stones within the shortest possible time.

18. Your Excellency, we wish to thank you for your Government's restoration of the annual subvention given to the Ghana Cocoa Coffee Shea nut Farmers Association. The subvention was stopped in 2001 for obvious reasons. This restored help to the Association is used in educational programmes for farmers and also for logistics and running our office.

19. With reference to the Shea nut Sector, we commend government for reactivating the sector and the establishment of a Shea nut processing plant at Buipe in the Northern Region.

20. It is our hope that the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) will get involved in programmes in the Shea nut industry to lift the people in the shea nut areas from poverty.

21. We need government support for the acquisition of tricycles for the pickers who have to walk long distances to collect the nuts and therefore increased income to the pickers and the farmers.

22. Your Excellency, we wish to again ask for government's intervention In the Coffee Sector which is lagging behind the other two sectors of Cocoa and Sheanuts.

23. Your Excellency, we are encouraged by your assurances that with the oil find government will pursue policies and programmes that will not negatively affect cocoa and for that matter the agricultural sector.

24. Your Excellency, to conclude, as a friend of farmers we respectfully invite you at your convenience, to inaugurate our building, the COCOSHE House which is opposite the Silver Star Building.