The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has acknowledged that Ghana’s relatively low cocoa pricing is one of the contributing factors to the increase in cocoa smuggling into neighbouring countries.
This situation has led to significant financial losses to the country and the destitution of cocoa farmers.
“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 and sell cocoa. Over the years it’s because we have better prices as compared to our neighbouring countries”, says Head of Public Affairs at COCOBOD, Fiifi Boafo.
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.
Fiifi Boafo informed Bernard Avle, host of the Citi Breakfast Show, that the ongoing actions of the cartel responsible for cocoa smuggling in Ghana will have a detrimental effect 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 emphasized.
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.
But what strategy is COCOBOD using to combat this alarming trend?
“We are collaborating with Ivory Coast for better results. Apart from that, we do not have that 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”, Fiifi Boafo further added.
Ghana recorded a shortfall of 300,000 metric tonnes of cocoa in the 2021/2022 crop season, the lowest in 15 years due to a myriad of challenges including over-aged plants and climate change. There are fears that smugglers would worsen the shortfall in the current crop year if not nipped in the bud.
People have been illegally transporting, or smuggling, cocoa beans between Ivory Coast and neighbouring Ghana for many years.
Cocoa smuggling between Ghana and Ivory Coast is quite common, with its direction shifting back and forth depending on the price difference between the two countries.
Files from ‘The Finder’ contributed to this story.