GHANA – Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has unveiled that it will be raising US$1.3 billion (GHȼ 6.96 billion) in syndicated loans for its operations in the 2019/2020 season.

The Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, says that the regulator has also initiated processes with the African Development Bank (AfDB) to raise additional US$600 million (GHȼ3.21 billion).

According to a Ghana News Agency update, the US$600 million AfDB funding will be a seven-year long term facility for the implementation of Productivity Enhancement Programmes (PEPs) and other initiatives.

The programmes will include; pruning of cocoa farms, rehabilitation of diseased and over-aged farms, irrigation in dry seasons, and farmer database, among others. 

However, Mr Ofori-Atta said the credit facility was at the instance of the joint request made by the Presidents of the Republic of Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire to the AfDB.

He noted that it will facilitate revamping of the cocoa industries in the two countries and put in strategies to take control of the price of cocoa on the international market.

Mr Ofori-Atta added that as a result of the current low market price of cocoa, the government had to forfeit its share of the Free On Board (FOB) price in the second year running.

Mr Ofori-Atta said as part of Government’s effort to protect cocoa farmers from market price volatility and income uncertainties, it had to maintain the farm gate price at GHȼ 7,600 (US$1420.23) per tonne to keep faith with the cocoa farmers.

“This is meant to ensure that no loss of income to the cocoa farmer arises due to the low international price of cocoa,” he said.

COCOBOD had so far purchased 794,841 tonnes representing 88.32 per cent of the forecast of 900,000 tonnes for the 2018/19 season, which is expected to close at the end of September 2019.

During the 2017/18 season, COCOBOD purchased 904,000 metric tonnes of cocoa.

Amid the increasing global demand for cocoa beans driven by growth in China and India market, Ghana is set to rake in more fortunes from the export of the commodity.

The International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) projects that cocoa processing will grow 3.4 percent this season – and continue to expand in future years.