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Business News of Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Source: Class FM

Ghana receives US$200m as first tranche of US$600m cocoa syndicated loan


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Ghana has received the first tranche of US$200 million out of the US$600 million cocoa syndicated loan facility.

Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, CEO of Ghana Cocoa Board, speaking at the launch of the COCOBOD US$600m syndicated loan facility on 23 June 2020, said: “Let me take this opportunity to thank the consortium of Development Finance Institutions (DFIs), led by the African Development Bank (AfDB), for the confidence reposed in Ghana’s cocoa sector, culminating in their decision to support the Board’s Productivity Enhancement Programmes (PEPs) with a $600 million receivable-backed syndicated loan facility”.

“This loan agreement was signed back in November 2019, with a focus on supporting COCOBOD to increase cocoa production through the implementation of productivity enhancement programmes, irrigation facilities, the expansion in warehousing capacity, processing and promotion of cocoa consumption, as well as the creation of a reliable database required for the smooth distribution of inputs to farmers”.

“We are gathered here today to inform our cherished stakeholders and the public about this syndicated loan facility and other support activities being provided by our international development partners in the cocoa sector. I am happy to announce that the first tranche of $200 million out of the $600 million facility has been received”, he noted.

Mr Aidoo continued: “I wish to take this opportunity to acknowledge one of our long standing partners who also happens to be a key Co-Financier of this Loan Facility, the Japan International Cooperation Agency – JICA. Japan has, over the years, supported Ghana’s developmental agenda in many ways; leaving its footprint in the energy, agriculture, health and education sectors”.

“The impact on these sectors has also been felt in rural communities through projects that enhance the living standard of the people. We are aware that Japan, through its agencies, has rolled out several developmental initiatives to promote the socio-economic growth of Ghana in particular, and Africa in general. We are happy to mention that out of the $600 Syndicated Loan Facility, JICA is contributing $250 million”, the CEO said.

According to him, “as agreed upon prior to the signing of the facility, we believe this loan will support us to strengthen the cocoa value chain, help alleviate poverty by increasing productivity and promoting a progressive cocoa consumption environment”.

“I must put on record that with our own resources, significant progress has been made in our collective resolve to implement various Productivity Enhancement Programmes (PEPs) to increase yield per hectare to at least 1000 kilogrammes”.

“For instance”, he noted, “the 2020 Mass Pruning Exercise, which began two months ago has been excellent. I am happy to indicate that we have achieved 100% coverage of farm area, giving more prospects for higher yields.”

For his part, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister of Food and Agriculture assured all cocoa farmers of quality extension services as part of moves to scale up production.

Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto said the government has rolled out a Cocoa Management System (CMS) to ensure that adequate and accurate data of cocoa farmers/farms are gathered.

“In our effort to ensure the provision of quality extension services and give farmers equal access to all our interventions, we have rolled out a Cocoa Management System (CMS), which will enable us have adequate and accurate data of our farmers/farms, Licensed-Buying Companies (LBCs), input suppliers and other players on the cocoa value chain”.

“A full implementation of the CMS will not only give farmers easy access to farm inputs but also make it easier for them to access funding from the local financial market for their operations”.

“We have also encouraged farmers to form cooperatives. Currently, more than 3,000 farmer groups across the country have registered with the Department of Cooperatives and are working closely with the CODAPEC/Hitech Unit as well as officers of the Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) in the districts to promote effective and quality services that will help increase productivity and sustain the cocoa industry”, he said.

“We are also highly focused on increasing domestic processing and warehousing facilities to stimulate local consumption”, the minister added.

“The price volatility of cocoa on the world market requires us to, among other interventions, increase our domestic processing and consumption. The President is keen on the consumption drive with numerous calls on all Ghanaians to cultivate the habit of consuming cocoa daily,” he said.

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