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The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has received the first tranche of $200 million out of the $600 million syndicated loan facility it signed with a consortium of development finance institutions.
The amount is expected to be used to finance productivity enhancement programmes in the cocoa industry.
At the launch of the facility in Accra yesterday, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of COCOBOD, Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, said the loan would support the board to strengthen the cocoa value chain, help alleviate poverty by increasing productivity and promote a progressive cocoa consumption environment.
The launch was attended by the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto; the Board Chairman of COCOBOD, Mr Hackman Owusu-Agyemang; the Ambassador of Japan to Ghana, Mr Tsutomu Himeno; the Ambassador of Italy to Ghana, Mr Giovanni Favilli, and the High Commissioner of South Africa to Ghana, Ms Lulama Xingwana.
“I must put on record that with our own resources, significant progress has been made in our collective resolve to implement various Productivity Enhancement Programmes (PEPs) to increase yield per hectare to at least 1,000 kilogrammes”
“For instance, the 2020 Mass Pruning Exercise, which began two months ago, has been excellent. I am happy to indicate that we have achieved 100 per cent coverage of farm area, giving more prospects for higher yields,” Mr Aidoo stated.
He said the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease (CSSVD) programme, which was in its second year in the Western and Eastern regions, had seen the rehabilitation of several hectares of diseased farms.
“For the 2019/20 crop year, we started with some 37,850 hectares of diseased farms in both regions. Large proportions of the affected farms are presently at various stages of rehabilitation. It is only a matter of time before they become productive again,” he pointed out.
The COCOBOD boss assured the public that the loan would be used for the purpose for which it was contracted.
The COCOBOD in November last year signed a $600-million loan agreement with some development finance institutions which include the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Development Bank of Southern Africa, and Casa Depositi e Prestiti Spa.
Others included the Credit Suisse AG and the Industrial Commercial Bank of China (ICBC).
AfDB acted as the lead arranger with a tranche of $250 million, Credit Suisse arranged the commercial tranche of up to $350 million, with the ICBC, acting as the underwriter.
COCOBOD indicated from inception that $140 million would be used to fight CSSVD, $50 million to build more cocoa warehouses, $200 million to promote the domestic processing of cocoa and $10.6 million to establish a database of cocoa farmers in the country.
It further stated that $40 million would be invested in irrigation services, $68 million in COCOBOD’s hand pollination initiative and $7.5 million to promote the domestic consumption of cocoa products.
Mitigating all challenges
Dr Afriyie Akoto said the government would continue to work closely with COCOBOD to mitigate all challenges in the cocoa value chain.
“In our effort to ensure the provision of quality extension services and give farmers equal access to all our interventions, we have rolled out a Cocoa Management System (CMS) which will enable us have adequate and accurate data of our farmers/farms, licensed buying companies (LBCs), input suppliers and other players in the cocoa sector.
“A full implementation of the CMS will not only give farmers easy access to farm inputs, but also make it easier for them to access funding from the local financial market for their operations,” he stated.
Dr Akoto said the ministry also encouraged farmers to form cooperatives and currently, more than 3,000 farmer groups across the country had registered with the Department of Cooperatives.
Source: Graphic online