This is in spite of huge investments made by government through the Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) into hi-tech agronomic practices in the sector.

“Barry Callebaut Ghana Ltd, a cocoa processing company, imported 15,500 tons of light crop cocoa beans from Cote d’Ivoire in the 2014/2015 crop year due to a shortfall,” the minister said.

This was after he had been hauled before parliament to explain some issues in the economy, particularly cocoa which plays a significant role in the country’s macro and micro-economic development.

Ghana is the second largest producer of cocoa after its western neighbor Côte d’Ivoire.

Ghana’s total cocoa production for last year fell to 740,000 metric tons, selling at 2,083.94 U.S. dollars on February 19, 2016 compared to the 2,127.67 dollars it had sold a day before.

The West African cocoa, gold and oil exporter has been experiencing lower production in the past two years after hitting the one million metric tons mark in 2011 as against 680 000 tons in 2008.

The COCOBOD has attributed this phenomenon to the production cycle of cocoa trees, pests, smuggling and changing weather conditions.

Terkper reminded parliament that the phenomenon was also experienced in both 2005 and 2008 during which times Ghana had to import cocoa beans from their western neighbors for processing.

But the minister justified the cocoa imports by saying that it was not the first time government was importing cocoa from Côte d’Ivoire, adding that it did so in 2005 and 2008.

The Minority demanded information about circumstances that led to the closure of two factories of the Cocoa Processing Company when Seth Terkper appeared before the house on Tuesday, February 23.

The Cocoa Processing Company (CPC) in which the state owns majority stakes temporally shut down two of its processing plants due to what it described as ‘operational challenges’.

The Minority in Parliament therefore sought to know from the minister circumstances under which the factory shut down the processing units.

Processing companies in Ghana buy smaller beans from government at a 20 percent discount, which they supplement with some larger beans for their production.

“A lot of the smaller beans come in the light crop season which lasts between June and September. But for their business purposes the manufacturing firms prefer to purchase the smaller beans which is of equal quality as the large beans at the 20 percent discount for processing,” Noah Amenya, Head of Communications at COCOBOD explained to Xinhua over the phone.

According to him, during the 2014/ 2015 season, COCOBOD sold 129,000 metric tons of smaller beans out of the total 740,000 metric tons of cocoa produced to the local processors.

Amenya explained that since local processing capacity was far higher than the 129,000 metric tons could meet, the companies also bought larger beans to supplement.

Amenya explained that some of the companies were given permission by the COCOBOD as and when they required importing some beans from Cote d’Ivoire to supplement what was procured locally.

“But they prefer to use Ghanaian beans because of the 20 percent discount they receive since the quality is the same as the large beans,” the spokesman pointed out. Enditem.

Source: Xinhua


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