Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture to take over COCOBOD operations

GHANA – The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) of Ghana is set to begin exercising formal ministerial responsibility over Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) as processes to legalize the new regime are nearing completion.

This follows the second reading of the Ghana Cocoa Board (Amendment) Bill, 2017 last week in parliament, reports GhanaWeb.

The goal of the Ghana Cocoa Board (Amendment) Bill seeks to modify Section 39 of the Provincial National Defense Council (PNDC) Law 81, which established COCOBOD, to vest ministerial responsibility of the activities of the Board in the hands of the Minister of Food and Agriculture.

According to PNDC Law 81, the Minister of Trade and Industry exercises ministerial responsibility over COCOBOD, but government is of the view that it has become imperative to enable the Minister in charge of Agriculture exercise this function.

Officials of COCOBOD had communicated to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs that the proposed change in ministerial responsibility under the law is to properly focus cocoa production as the foremost function of the Board.

“In view of the fact that cocoa production is under the remit of the agriculture sector, it is therefore imperative for the Minister responsible for Agriculture to have oversight responsibility over Ghana Cocoa Board and related matters pertaining to the production of cocoa as an agriculture product”, the Committee’s report added.

The Bill was laid in parliament in 2018 and was subsequently referred to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for deliberation and consideration.

In other related news, Cargill, one of the world’s leading cocoa and chocolate producers, has reiterated its commitment to promoting a transparent and sustainable supply of cocoa from the five origin countries i.e. Ghana, Brazil, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire and Indonesia seeking to drive long-lasting change in the sector with digital technologies.

According to the company’s published 2018-2019 sustainability progress report, with the use of bar-coded cocoa bags and digital Cooperative Management Systems (CMS), 50 percent of sustainable cocoa beans in the company’s global direct supply chain are now traceable from farm-to-factory.

“In 2018-2019, 151,190 metric tons of cocoa beans were tracked, adding that the CMS enabled farmers’ organizations to manage loans, collect beans and check fixed versus variable costs,” stated the company.

The company has also completed GPS polygon mapping of 72% of all farmers in the direct supply chain, representing over 400,000 hectares of farmland.

The move has enabled the company to further identify where the cocoa comes from, which areas may be at risk of deforestation and how to mitigate this risk through specific interventions.

Cargill says that the digital tools are providing cooperatives and cocoa farmers with information, such as digital farm development plans and market insights, to help improve their farming practices.

In the report, the company explains that digital tools serve as a means to communicate with farmers during a crisis, such as the coronavirus pandemic, amplifying government safety and sanitation messages to help curb the spread of the virus in farming communities.

Cargill sees digitization driving change across the entire cocoa supply chain by utilizing valuable information collected to inform on how to achieve the best impact on the ground.

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