GHANA – A US$1.3 billion trade finance facility between Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and a consortium of banks and financial institutions for the purchase of cocoa for the 2018/2019 crop season has been approved by the parliament.

The facility holds the government of Ghana as the guarantor and was granted on merit that cocoa industry significantly contributes to the economic development of the country, according to GNA.

It allows COCOBOD purchase cocoa beans from farmers through licensed buying companies for the2018/2019 crop season.

Presenting a report to the parliament, Dr Mark Assibey Yeboah, Chairman of the Finance Committee said the sector has played a critical role in employment creation as well as earning foreign exchange for the country.

COCOBOD, which purchases, markets and exports cocoa and its products produced in Ghana is assigned a loan facility to finance the purchase of cocoa and for other payments each year under the 1994 Trade Finance arrangement.

The committee discussing the issue reiterated on the need to engage local banks on the consortium rather than borrowing from foreign banks whose price element and interest rate goes to benefit them.

They called on the government to process more cocoa beans rather than exporting them in its raw form, urging it to look for other markets especially in China.

The consortium received a tax waiver but the several individuals faulted the move as it could add to the interest on the facility, something the country has to service in the long term.

Other issues of concern included pests, diseases and ageing cocoa farmers and need to encourage consumption of locally produced cocoa rather than relying on tea and coffee.