The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), has said it is appalled by the refusal of the government to release SEED Funds to License Buying Companies (LBCs) for the purchase of cocoa for the 2020-2021 cocoa season.
The party said in a press release issued on Thursday, October 22, 2020, that it is deeply worried the funds have not been released by COCOBOD to LBCs for cocoa purchases since President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo declared the cocoa season opened on October 2, 2020.
Under the Seed Fund policy, the COCOBOD releases funds to universal banks for onward release to LBCs as guarantee.
“This is a sharp departure from the long-standing practice of COCOBOD, which has been to release SEED funds to LBCs for cocoa purchases immediately after the cocoa season is declared open.
“The undue delay in the release of SEED funds to LBCs for cocoa purchases we are witnessing now is unprecedented in Ghana’s history and portends great danger for the already-collapsing cocoa sector,” the NDC said in a press release signed Eric Opoku, a Ranking Member for Agricultures.
According to Mr Opoku, who is also Member of Parliament for Asunafo South, the delay in the release of the funds has created a situation where only a few foreign multinational LBCs are the ones currently purchasing cocoa in the country, while Ghanaian indigenous LBCs in the country have been crippled and are unable to purchase any cocoa at all.
“From our assessment of the situation, many of the 30 Ghanaian indigenous LBCs, who employ hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians in the cocoa sector, stand the risk of folding up and laying off their workers, if this situation persists beyond October 2020.
“Also, smuggling of cocoa is likely to increase and our gallant cocoa farmers across the country are likely to incur huge losses, if the government does not release SEED funds to LBCs for cocoa purchases immediately,” the NDC press release stressed.
The NDC alleged that the delay to release of SEED funds to LBCs “has been occasioned by COCOBOD’s continuous mismanagement of the cocoa sector under the watch of President Akufo Addo.”
“Indeed, it is this same mismanagement of the cocoa sector, that resulted in the cancellation of the free cocoa fertilisation program and the shambolic implementation of interventions such as the cocoa rehabilitation program, mass spraying programme free cocoa seedling distribution programme among others, that have conspired to reduce annual cocoa production from 969,511 MT in 2016-2017 under the NDC/Mahama government, to 742,000 MT for the 2019-2020 cocoa season, thereby worsening the living conditions of cocoa farmers,” the opposition party touted.
The press release added that although Ghana’s cocoa farmers have produced tonnes of cocoa through their toil and sweat, Ghanaian indigenous LBCs do not have any funds to purchase the cocoa produced.
The NDC said the situation poses to Ghanaian indigenous LBCs, their workers, cocoa farmers and the Ghanaian economy.
“The NDC hereby demands, that the Akufo Addo-government, as a matter of urgency, releases SEED Funds to LBCs for cocoa purchases in the next 48 hours. This we believe, is the only way we can avert a total collapse of the already-collapsing cocoa sector,” the release said.