GHANA – Ghana Cocoa Board signed a $1.3 billion loan with international banks on Wednesday to fund purchases for the 2017/18 season, due to open in October.

The loan, signed in Paris with 25 banks, is smaller than the $1.8 billion secured last year.

“By this event, Ghanaian cocoa farmers are going to be assured of fair and prompt payment for the fruit of their labour-that is cocoa,” Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, Chief Executive of Ghana Cocoa Board said at the signing ceremony.

The signing ceremony also marks the 25th anniversary of Ghana’s engagement in the top notch world-class soft commodity financing since it first did in 1991/92 cocoa season.

Mr Aidoo said Cocobod, in the 2017/18 crop season, aims to buy at least 850,000 tonnes from farmers, adding that, the loan would support over 800,000 cocoa farm households and ancillary industries.

The cocoa sector accounts for 4.5 per cent of GDP and contributes 25 per cent of Ghana’s merchandise export earnings.

Mr Aidoo encouraged the banks to consider a reduction in the interest rate, which is competitive, to enable the Cocobod to access more funds to improve the livelihood of farmers and the economy in general.

He said Cocobod would seek from the banks a further medium term financing for upstream capital projects such as provision of storage facilities, cocoa roads and railway infrastructure development, cocoa farm mechanisation and programmes for sustainable production and consumption.

Mr Aidoo assured the banks involved in the syndication of Cocobod’s commitment to meet its obligations under the loan agreement and would take steps to enhance the assignments, collections and repayment processes associated with the facility.

Lead arrangers for the loan were Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, Standard Bank, Natixis, Rabobank, Ghana International Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation.