Ghana, one of the leading producers of cocoa, risks losing out if the smuggling of the commodity is not immediately checked.
The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) is concerned that if the cartel that is in charge of cocoa smuggling in Ghana keeps up its current behaviour, the situation will get worse.
Fiifi Boafo, Head of Public Affairs at COCOBOD maintained that the phenomenon poses a negative impact on the country’s cocoa production.
“If cocoa beans are smuggled across the border, then there will not be any revenue for COCOBOD, and it appears a sizeable amount of Cocoa will be lost to these smuggling activities”, he said on the Citi Breakfast Show on Monday.
For many years, cocoa beans have been smuggled illegally between the Ivory Coast and Ghana.
The smuggling of cocoa between Ghana and the Ivory Coast occurs often, with the direction of the trafficking varying according to the price differential between the two countries.
If not stopped in their tracks, smugglers will continue to contribute to Ghana’s crop shortfall.
Aside from that, factors including over-aged trees and climate change have led Ghana to experience a shortage of 300,000 metric tonnes of cocoa in the crop season for 2021–2022.
That is actually the lowest in 15 years.
His concern was expressed given that in just two weeks, the anti-smuggling task force, working with security organizations, has seized more than 1,500 bags of smuggled cocoa beans.
The smuggled beans originated from the Western North and Volta regions while arrests were made in the Greater Accra, Volta and Western North regions during the transit of the cocoa beans.
“We have realized that, now it has gone beyond the border towns, where people in Accra are also smuggling. The challenge now is that we have foreigners engaged in this business now who repackaged it in a way you would not know that the content is cocoa and get it out of town. That is the challenge we have now. The foreigners have given the smugglers a window to be cash in so the farmer is not getting anything.”
He also recognized that one of the contributing factors to the rise in cocoa smuggling into Ghana’s neighbours is the country’s comparatively low cocoa prices.
The country has suffered huge financial losses, and cocoa farmers are now in a desperate predicament.
“It is serious. At the beginning of the year, we have been concerned about the possibility of smuggling. It is quite a common thing to have people cross borders to go sell cocoa. Over the years it’s because we have better prices as compared to our neighbouring countries”, says the Head of Public Affairs at COCOBOD, Fiifi Boafo.
Highlighting COCOBOD’s plans to deal with the crisis, Fiifi Boafo stated that the Board will step up its efforts.
“We are collaborating with Ivory Coast for better results. Apart from that, we do not have a strong relationship with Togo, so it doesn’t help that much. One of the things we are also doing is that the people who see and report, we give them two-thirds of the value of the cocoa, so it has incentivized people to give us information”.