18.11.2005 Regional News

Seventy-six billion cedis released for cocoa purchase in C/R

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Agona Nyakrom (CR) Nov. GNA- The government has release a total of 76.6 billion cedis since the beginning of the main crop season for the purchase of cocoa in the Central Region.

Mr Emmanuel Owusu Boakye, Managing Director (MD) of the Produce Buying Company (PBC), announced this when he address separate functions for Best Cocoa farmers awards at Agona Nyakrom, Twifo Praso and Breman Asikuma.

Sixty best cocoa farmers each received half peace of cloth, solar lantern, Wellington boots, cutlasses and certificates. Mr Owusu Boakye said the money had been transferred to the Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB), Agric Development Bank and the rural banks to facilitate the company's cocoa purchase payments in all the Region's cocoa districts.

He said the PBC would purchase cocoa through the Akuafo cheque system, which had been relegated since the introduction of licensed buying companies.

The MD said the Akuafo cheque system was introduced as a government intervention to relieve farmers of the problem of non-payment for their produce.

He pointed out that the GCB law 1984 (PNDC law 81) enjoined all cocoa dealers to effect payment for purchases from farmers by cheque, adding that this was the position of government and the GCB was determined to pursue it to the letter.

Mr Owusu Boakye underscored the need for the cheque to guarantees full payment for the farmer, devoid of any suspicion or argument, saying that it also assured security and protection from armed robbery. He assured the farmers that the government has enough cash to purchase cocoa this season.

Mr Owusu Boakye stressed that the problem that delayed the release of the money was the issue of purple beans that had gained roots in the cocoa industry.

He noted that it has been established by cocoa researchers that the purple beans are produced when there is inadequate fermentation and drying through the adoption of unapproved and abridge processes. The MD reminded cocoa farmers that Ghana's premium quality cocoa was derived from good and complete fermentation and appealed to chief and other prominent cocoa farmers to encourage their caretakers and farm hands to go back to the conventional fermentation methods in defence of quality.

Mr Robert Amposah, Central Regional Manager of the PBC said his outfit would soon embark on a tour of all cocoa growing areas to educate farmers on the needs to produce premium cocoa beans. He said the company made huge losses because of the purple beans in the past two seasons and urged the farmers to endeavour to reverse the trend to improve the cocoa industry and to earn more foreign exchange for the country.