Business News of 2014-05-30

COCOBOD, stakeholders brainstorm on cocoa sector challenges

The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) is collaborating with private sector institutions and stakeholders in the cocoa sector to find long-term solutions to existing and expected challenges in the cocoa industry.

The board will also look at the bottlenecks constraining the operations of institutions in the supply chain, and land acquisition problems, and fashion a strategic vision for the sector, including the need for closer collaboration among the government, local and international institutions in the sector.

Accordingly, a two-day scenario planning workshop on the industry is being held in Accra to solicit the views of experts on the way forward for the industry.

The workshop, on the theme, “The Future of Ghana's Cocoa Sector”, has brought together processors, licensed buying companies, non-governmental organisations in the cocoa sector and government officials to discuss the pertinent issues likely to shape the industry for the next 20 to 25 years.

Need for holistic framework

The Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, Dr Stephen Opuni, said in a speech read on his behalf at the opening session that there was the need for a holistic policy framework to ensure the general well-being of the sector.

He said although there was the need for increased productivity to meet global demand, boost farmers' incomes, and increase the country's earnings from the crop, stakeholders also needed to take into account the implication of that increased output for the price of the crop.

"We have been complaining that the productivity of our almost 800,000 farmers is pretty low, around 400 kilogrammes per hectare. But supposing that over the next 20 to 25 years we get our act together and deliver fertilisers on time, spray at the right time and in the right dosages, manage to modernise and transform cocoa production, such that the productivity of our 800,000 farmers is 1,000kg per hectare, then what next?" Dr Opuni asked.

"We need to put both sides of the equation in perspective, otherwise we shall be the cause of our own downfall," he said.

A rise in cocoa output in the country and other cocoa-producing countries, as has been advocated, could lower global price of the crop, given that buyers would now become the price dictators, unlike the current situation where the producers virtually determine the price of the crop.

A lower price for cocoa beans will translate into lower earnings for the country, as well as incomes for cocoa farmers.

Vision

Dr Opuni called for a strategic vision for the cocoa sector that would take into account the country’s expectations from the crop.

He also called on participants to look at the external and internal factors that were likely to drive the local cocoa sector and suggest ways of dealing with the various bottlenecks in the supply chain sector.

The workshop, facilitated by officials of COCOBOD and the global accounting firm, PwC, is a follow-up to a similar one held in April.