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Business News of Monday, 27 January 2014

Source: B&FT

COCOBOD boss attacks defaulting local cocoa firms

Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod) has directed all local cocoa processing companies accessing credit facilities from the board to submit an appropriate guarantee from a reputable bank to ensure business continuity.

“What I have done is ensure that before any company will be given any credit, it will have to provide a guarantee from a reputable bank; that will be easier for us to retrieve our monies, because we need to encourage local business -- and at the same time they should also live up to their responsibilities,” Dr. Opuni told B&FT in an interview in Accra.

A lot of the local cocoa processing companies and the Licenced Buying Companies owe Cocobod huge sum of monies. Some of these local cocoa processing companies have not lived up to expectation, he said.

Cocobod has over the years been supplying cocoa beans to local processing companies on credit at a discount of 20 percent, targetted at growing local businesses and creating employment.

Over US$200million debt is owed by these local cocoa processing companies to Cocobod, dwindling government’s balance sheet.

Speaking on output target for the season, Dr. Opuni explained that the sustained hi-tech and Cocoa Disease and Pest Control programmes (CODAPEC) have helped to raised national production.

The industry regulator has set cocoa production target of 850,000 metric tonnes for the ongoing crop season.

This country, the second-biggest producer, runs a two-cycle cocoa season consisting of the October-June main crop harvest which is mainly exported, and the July-September light crop that is discounted to local grinders.

The current 2013/14 main crop season opened on October 18 with an initial target of buying around 830,000 tonnes.

The country produced 835,410 tonnes of cocoa during the 2012/13 crop-year, down 5 percent on the previous season.

An unprecedented one million tonnes of cocoa was produced during the 2010/11 crop-year, thanks to good weather and improved farming techniques -- but production declined to about 850,000 tonnes in the 2011/12 season.