The Minister-designate for Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto has stated that the Ghana Cocoa Board will receive a sum of US$190 million to pay Cocoa farmers who are yet to be paid for cocoa beans they supplied to Licensed Buying Companies (LBCs) for the 2020/2021 cocoa season early this week.Speaking at the Appointments Committee in Parliament last Friday, the Food and Agriculture Minister-designate, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, said the money is expected to be paid early this week.
“By now, before the end of the year, normally we should have had enough contracts for the release of the whole amount of US$1.3 billion, unfortunately, we could not sell that fast. So, now that we have the contracts sold, we are expecting that early this week, the last tranche of US$190 million will be with us, and then we can pay for all the outstanding monies owed and that issue will be behind us.”
Responding to questions asked by the MP for Buem, Kofi Adams stating that, in his constituency, cocoa farmers were owed over GH¢11 million and that has affected the livelihood of the farmers, the Minister-designate assured the Committee that “the money had been secured and would be received early this week which should lead to payments of affected farmers”.
Meanwhile, the Public Affairs Manager of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Fiifi Boafo has confirmed that the board has for some weeks now been putting measures in place to secure some US$200 million to settle the arrears owed some License Buying Companies and farmers across the country.
“We admit that to an extent the flow of cash to cocoa farmers has not been the very best, but it is a challenge we’ve had which we are dealing with and to a very large extent we have managed the situation. But we admit that there is the need for us to quickly clear some of the debt for the LBC’s to be able to settle the cocoa farmers. The challenge to a very large extent has been influenced by COVID-19.” He said.
Speaking on Accra-based CitiNews monitored by GhanaWeb, Mr Boafo stated that, “Because of COVID-19 consumption and trading in terms of pricing has dropped, which has led to trade housing limiting their processing capacity which affects your ability to raise funds and all that. The assuring part is that the US$1.3 billion COCOBOD contracted to pay cocoa farmers we have done a drawdown of about $1.1 billion already, the expectation is that in the coming weeks we will be able to draw down the rest to be able to clear some of the debt available,”
COCOBOD has been questioned by authorities on why they have delayed in paying the farmers but the company attributed it to the COVID-19 pandemic which has affected many businesses across the world.