Business News of Saturday, 18 February 2012
Cocoa farmers in Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo and Western Regions have appealed for the strict enforcement of the Akuafo Cheque Payment System to save them from being shortchanged.
They said the present situation where the licensed buying companies (LBCs) used cash to pay for cocoa purchases was fraught with cheating and other unhealthy practices.
They said it among other things makes it easier for farmhands to steal cocoa beans, allows for adjustment of weighing scales by unscrupulous purchasing clerks, exposes farmers to the risk of robbery attacks and a disincentive to saving money with the banks.
These sentiments were expressed at a day’s sensitization workshop held for members of the Ghana Cocoa Coffee and Shea nut Farmers Association (GCCSFA) in the three regions with support from the BUSAC Fund.
Alhaji Alhassan Bukari, the National Chief Farmer, said it was important for the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Bank of Ghana (BOG) and the LBCs to act together to streamline the Akuafo cheque system and remove all the bottlenecks.
He said the banks should establish strong presence in the cocoa production areas and where necessary introduce mobile banking services and electronic payment system.
He said no effort should be spared at ensuring that farmers were not made to travel long distances to the banks to withdraw money.
Alhaji Bukari said the sale of fertilizer and other inputs to farmers must be made transparent and fair adding that to achieve this, the farmers’ association should have strong representation on the committees that had been responsible for the distribution of the inputs.
Mr Joseph Atayem Awantungo, Consultant on the BUSAC Fund Advocacy Action, said a research they had conducted showed overwhelming support for the Akuafo cheque system by cocoa farmers.
He said 97 per cent of them want to be paid with cheque instead of cash for cocoa sold to the LBCs.