Ghana has suspended its free cocoa spraying programme at Elubo, a cocoa community on the border with Cote d’Ivoire over rampant smuggling.
The country’s cocoa sector supervisory agency, Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod), provides free cocoa spraying as part of its broad farmer incentive interventions to increase yield and output.
Other incentive services include free seedlings, subsidised fertilizer, pruning and hand pollination.
But Cocobod regrets cocoa farmers at Elubo in the Western Region will not continue to benefit from the incentive programme over breach of faith.
The Board’s Head of Public Relations, Fiifi Boafo, accused the community of smuggling cocoa beans to neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire.
“It is unfortunate that the farmers will have to suffer this fate at this time. But it is to send a certain signal,” Fiifi Boafo said.
Mr Boafo quizzed “After all the costs involved, if cocoa is smuggled outside the country, how will Cocobod be able to raise the money to pay for the services?”
The Cocobod spokesperson fears the situation could get worse if stern action is not taken to curtail the heinous activities of the smuggling cartel.
He said smuggling has the potential to negatively impact the country’s cocoa production output.
“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 told Citi FM.
Early in March, Cocobod’s anti-smuggling task force in collaboration with security forces busted a smuggling syndicate and intercepted more than 1,500 bags of cocoa beans.
The illicit cargo was said to have 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.
Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, the world’s top two producers of cocoa beans, have for years struggled with cocoa smuggling activities across their borders.
Experts identify the farmgate price differential between the neighbours as the leading driver of the smuggling phenomenon.
Aside from the threat of smuggling, Ghana is battling disease, over-aged plantations and unbridled destruction of cocoa farms through illegal gold mining popularly known as galamsey.
The country’s 2021/2022 crop recorded a 300,000 MT shortfall said to be the lowest in production output in over a decade.