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Politics of Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Source: citinewsroom.com

Parliament defers approval of $600m loan for cocoa sector after Minority’s concerns


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Parliament has deferred the approval of a 600 million dollar loan facility for the Ghana Cocoa Board’s (COCOBOD) cocoa productivity enhancement programme.

This was after the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu questioned the utilization of 68 million dollars for hand pollination, 5 million dollars as part of the school feeding programme for the distribution of chocolate and cocoa products and 200 million dollars to promote local processing of cocoa, among others.

Several initiatives such as mass cocoa spraying exercises, agronomic support, and input subsidies were expected to be undertaken under the project which was sourced from the African Development Bank (AfDB).

We want to know where the 200 million dollars will be going to because 200 million dollars can even set up four processing factories if we are to do a minimum of 50 million dollars per factory. That will be supporting indigenous Ghanaians in that sector. We have no difficulty with it but when we say 200 million dollars to support domestic processing of cocoa, the committee must demand who will get this as support.

“We need to know because you can set up a factory with 50 million dollars….We need full details from government. Who will it go to? For what?”

Meanwhile the Chairman of the Agricultural Committee of Parliament, Kwame Asafo Adjei believes the expenditure is in order.

“Government’s intervention is paramount. If we believe cocoa is the backbone of this country’s economy, how do we do it? Should the government sit down and let cocoa production decline as they did in their time? That is why we are going for this loan.”

The Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah had recently explained that the amount is to push Ghana’s cocoa production to 1.5 million tones by 2027, among others.

“The Akufo-Addo administration acting through COCOBOD will inject a 600 million USD stimulus package into the cocoa sector through a Cocoa Productivity Enhancement Program which will among other things step up Ghana’s production to 1.5 million tones by 2027.”

He said the stimulus will target rehabilitation of plantations, improvement in storage and domestic processing, stimulation of local consumption as well as efforts to increase output on farms among others within a 7-year period.

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