The 63.5 per cent increment also translates to GH¢20,943 per tonne of raw cocoa beans, up from GH¢12,800 per tonne.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who announced the new price at a durbar of chiefs and cocoa farmers at Tepa in the Ashanti Region at the weekend, said the new price “is the highest to be paid to cocoa farmers across West Africa in over 50 years”.
The President said the government decided to open the cocoa season in September instead of the usual October.
“We know the farmers will be sending their wards to school at this time, it is prudent to sell cocoa to meet such expenditures than to borrow at higher interest rates, when the cocoa is readily available,” President Akufo-Addo explained.
The announcement last Saturday effectively ushers in the 2023-2024 cocoa season.
The new price was met with spontaneous applause and shouts of joy by cocoa farmers who were at the durbar.
Out of excitement, they tried to mount the President’s podium in appreciation of the new price.
The security detail had a hectic time controlling the crowd and the process truncated the President’s speech.
The depreciating value of the cedi has compelled some of the farmers to smuggle their produce out of the country into either Cote d’Ivoire or Togo.
The increase in the producer price for the commodity is to address some of the challenges facing the cocoa sector such as smuggling and illegal mining.
Low international price
President Akufo-Addo said until recently, the price of the commodity on the international market had remained relatively low and made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In spite of that, the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and the government had been taking very hard decisions to increase the producer price of cocoa, he added.
The President added that the increment was also equivalent to $1,821 or 70.5 per cent of “gross free on board (FOB)” price per tonne of cocoa beans.
Cocoa prices have increased steadily from GH¢7,600 per tonne in 2016 to GH¢12,800 in 2022.
President Akufo-Addo explained that the decision to increase the producer price in the face of low international market price, “has had adverse impact on COCOBOD’s financial performance.”
“However, the sustainability of the entire industry hinges on a well-remunerated producer who is willing to invest in the business,” he said.
The President said the cocoa industry was witnessing unprecedented transformation under his administration, with the introduction of the productivity enhancement interventions that had positively impacted the sector.
He said COCOBOD had implemented a number of transformational projects that “are having positive impacts on productivity, incomes and climate resilience.”
President Akufo-Addo explained that the positive impacts recorded would not have been possible without the hard work and determination of cocoa farmers.
“They remain the most reliable stakeholders in the entire cocoa value chain,” he said.
The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Bryan Acheampong, said in the last two years, smuggling of cocoa beans to neighbouring countries had been a major challenge facing the sector.
That, he said, greatly affected the nation’s production capacity and blamed commercial entities for the practice.
Dr Acheampong said the entities who had not contributed anything to the sector smuggled the beans out of the country.
The Minister of Food and Agriculture, however, assured the nation that the government was working hard to stop the smuggling very soon, stressing “I will not disappoint Ghanaians.”
Aside from that, Dr Acheampong said illegal mining was another challenge that was threatening the sustainability of the cocoa sector.
He appealed to the cocoa farmers not to be lured by illegal miners to sell their farms for illicit small-scale mining as the cocoa sector was very important to the economy.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, said the European Union had introduced a new law that would ban any cocoa beans that could not be traced from entering its market, with effect from January 1, 2025.
He, however, added that through the Cocoa Management System where all cocoa farms and farmers were being registered, the country was ready to comply with that law.
The CEO said the progress in the country’s cocoa industry confirmed the dedication and hard work of cocoa farmers, the support of the government and the steadfast commitment of all stakeholders.
“As we stand at the cusp of another cocoa season, it is crucial that we not only celebrate our achievements, but also look ahead with a sense of responsibility and purpose and approach our farming business more professionally,” Mr Aidoo said.
He, therefore, called on all to continue the collective efforts and remain committed to the productivity enhancement programmes, sustainable farming practices and the responsible use of resources.
On behalf of the farmers, Mr Aidoo thanked the President for the new producer price and expressed the hope that it would help address the smuggling and illegal mining which were posing a threat to the sector.