Enchi (W/R) Nov.20 -GNA- Twenty-five District Officers of some Licensed Buying Companies (LBC) and personnel from the quality control division of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) met at a forum at Enchi on Saturday to discuss common problems facing the cocoa industry in the area.
Mr. Michael Offei Annor, Aowin-Suaman district senior quality control officer noted with concern that the industry suffered a setback because there was a high percentage of purple beans in the produce supplied to foreign partners during the 2003/2004-crop season.
He said this has serious consequences on premium on Ghana's cocoa supplies and the cocoa industry in the country.
He therefore, advised the officers to do critical examination of all cocoa they purchased and also educate farmers to adopt the right methods of fermenting and drying of cocoa.
Mr. Annor advised farmers to stick to the seven days fermentation period because the purple beans problems was the result of incomplete fermentation of the beans.
He outlined COCOBOD's new measures for grading systems and urged the Licensed Buying Companies to reject all purple cocoa beans sent to the depot by farmers.
Mr. Annor warned officers of these Companies to desist from adulterating good beans with bad ones and also tampering with sealed beans.
These, he said, were criminal acts punishable by law, adding that those caught dealing in unorthodox practices would not be spared. He disclosed that sometimes foreign materials like nails, stones and even padlocks are found in sealed cocoa at the harbour. Mr. Annor warned that cocoa found to have been smuggled from Cote d' Ivoire would be confiscated and offenders severely sanctioned. Mr. Osei Agyemang, District Officer of Armajaro Buying Company said the use of difference kinds of fertilizers and insecticides to support the cocoa "HITEC" programme could be the cause of the increase in the incidents of purple beans and called for investigations. An outreach programme to educate farmers and cocoa purchasing clerks to eliminate purple beans was drawn up at the forum.