COCOBOD is a big boost for shea industry -Chief Farmer
The re-introduction of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOCOB) by the government to regulate the country's shea industry has been hailed as a big boost for the sector, and those along the supply chain, especially farmers.
The Chief Farmer, National Cocoa, Coffee and Sheanut Farmers Association, Alhaji Alhassan Bukari, who made this observation, told journalists at a news conference in Accra recently, that with COCOBOD on board, 'stakeholders in the sheanut industry were going to enjoy the same benefits just like those in the cocoa industry.'
Alhaji Bukari was responding to calls by a group called the National Association of Sheanut Farmers, Processors and Buyers, with respect to the set floor price, claiming that the price was too low, and also a unilateral decision that could lead to the collapse of the shea industry.
According to Alhaji Bukari, he saw nothing wrong with COCOBOD determining the floor price of sheanut, something it had been doing in the cocoa sector, which had brought tremendous achievements in the sector over the last decade.
He, therefore, called on agitators within the sheanut industry to partner effectively with COCOBOD to sanitise the sector. Currently, the sheanut industry is saddled with poor policies, low level of value chain, lack of coordinated activities, and poor agronomic practices, which experts see the COCOBOD as the only institution to turn things around.
COCOBOD, some years back, was the regulator of the sheanut industry, alongside cocoa. However, the introduction of the private sector, according to Alhaji Bukari, turned things upside down, leaving those in the supply chain to determine the floor price of the product without considering prices on the world market, and other factors on the local market.
According to COCOBOD, the country, on the average, exports 70,000 tonnes of sheanut from a production of 90,000 - 97,000. Over 200,000 tonnes of the said produce are uncollected annually. This figure, they noted, was not the best for the country, hence the coming on board of COCOBOD in July, 2011, to sanitise the sector.
To achieve maximum yield of the sheanut, COCOBOD first introduced the floor pricing mechanism, coupled with short-medium strategies, to realise its goals.
A bag of 80 kilogrammes sheanut now costs GH¢32, but this figure, according to officials of COCOBOD, was subject to change at the urban centers, taking into consideration transportation, handling, and other transactional costs.
'The floor price was instituted to prevent exploitation of farmers in the face of the highly volatile international prices for sheanut, which buyers exploit to their advantage.
'In time past, buyers often paid very low prices when the international sheanut prices fell, as is being experienced at the moment. The institution of the floor price, therefore, to prevent the re-occurrence of such situations,' explained Dr. Yaw Adu Ampoma, Deputy Chief Executive Officer in charge of Agronomy and Quality Control.
Also included in the short-medium term strategy are the establishment of a Shea Unit within COCOBOD to formulate and coordinate policies and programmes for the growth of the shea industry, and the formation of a National Steering Committee on Shea to serve as a governing body to facilitate the implementation of policies and programmes.
The Steering Committee is also to serve as a platform for the formation of a Shea Board in future. In the long term, COCOBOD says it is in the process of partnering with Embrapa, a Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, 'to do the budding, just like it did to cocoa, to reduce the gestation period.'
EMBRAPA holds 68 bilateral agreements for technical cooperation with 37 countries and 64 institutions, as well multilateral agreements with 20 international organisations, mainly involving the search in partnerships.
To the help the sheanut industry grow Dr. Ampoma urged that COCOBOD continues to collaborate with accredited and well-meaning organisations, with the view to ensuring that the collective interest of the sheanut farmers and all other stakeholders is taken care of.