GHANA – Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has launched decisive measures to help curb the smuggling of cocoa out of Ghana to neighboring countries that may be procuring the commodity at a higher price than the country.
“It is serious. At the beginning of the year, we have been concerned about the possibility of smuggling. It is quite a common thing to have people cross borders to go and sell cocoa. Over the years, it is because we have had better prices as compared to our neighboring countries,” citinewsroom.com quotes The Head of Public Affairs of the Ghana Cocoa Board.
Boafo lamented the effects the smuggling will cause on the country’s cocoa sector, saying that the COCOBOD may lose a lot of revenue.
“We have realized that now it has gone beyond the border towns. People in Accra are also smuggling. The challenge now is that we have foreigners engaged in this business now who repackaged it in a way you would not know that the content is cocoa and get it out of town. That’s the challenge we have now. The foreigners have given the smugglers a window to cash in, so the farmer is not getting anything,” he explained.
To try to hit the smugglers on both sides, Boafo said COCOBOD is collaborating with the Ivory Coast and Togo for better results.
In addition, the board gives two-thirds of the value of the cocoa to whistleblowers, who fish out the perpetrators of the heinous act, motivating people to give information about the trade, Fifi Boafo further added.
The comments come on the back of the recent operation by an anti-smuggling task force that intercepted over 1500 bags of smuggled cocoa beans.
The COCOBOD has indicated that it will need more support from security services to halt the devastating effect of illegal mining, also known as galamsey, on the cultivation of the crop.
The European Union (EU) has already warned that it may be forced to boycott the purchase of Ghana’s cocoa if traceability is not prioritized. Traceability is a measure put in place to fight deforestation and human rights abuses.
The COCOBOD has discussed with a four-member delegation from the EU the implementation of the traceability legislation, calling for a reconsideration of the element of cocoa pricing in its legislation.
The Head of Cooperation, EU delegation to Ghana, Massimo Nina, who led the team, acknowledged the concerns raised, noting that the EU is committed to building stronger relations with COCOBOD in its efforts at ensuring traceability and sustainability, as well as taking steps to ensure that cocoa farmers’ income and livelihoods are improved to correspond with their inputs in cocoa production.