Why Ghana Is Opening 2023/24 Crop Season A Month Early

Ghana is set to open the 2023/24 crop season for the purchases of cocoa beans one month earlier than usual on Friday, 8 September 2023.

The world’s second-largest cocoa producer has traditionally announced the opening of a new crop season on Cocoa Day, marked 1 October annually.

But Ghana Cocoa Board, which oversees the sector, has said the unprecedented move is “informed by recent disruptions in the internal marketing of cocoa and to safeguard the interest of our cocoa farmers.”

It emerged in mid-August that Ghana could not fulfil some of its cocoa contracts due to poor harvest attributed to extreme weather.

Also significantly impacting the country’s overall output in the last decade has been the outbreak of the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease (CSSVD) which has almost taken out the once top-producing cocoa region, Western North.

Sources familiar with the situation indicated the country’s farmers are anticipated to make the lowest harvest in 13 years during the season ending 31 August 2023, falling short of official projections by almost a quarter, Bloomberg reported.

The development is said to have inhibited Ghana Cococa Board from fulfilling some current cocoa contracts and forcing it to postpone the supply of some 44,000 metric tons of cocoa beans for future harvests.

Cross-border Smuggling

Along with the poor harvest, Ghana’s 2022/23 campaign has also been fraught with some incidence of cross-border smuggling exacerbated by price disparity with neighbouring countries.

Cote d’Ivoire and Togo, Ghana’s neighbours, who boast a stronger currency – the Euro-backed CFA Franc – currently offer better prices than Ghana, whose currency suffered unprecedented depreciation in late 2022.

Cote d’Ivoire-Ghana Cooperation

Although this move by Ghana is in its national interest, observers are worried it may weaken its cooperation on cocoa with neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire, especially on the issue of the concurrent announcement of farmgate price meant to tackle cross-border smuggling.

“The strategies of the two countries are fully aligned, and price announcements are always coordinated, as part of our continuous joint work, with the sole aim to ensure the highest price for farmers in light of national circumstances,” said Alex Assanvo, who coordinates the bilateral partnership.

Assanvo, who is the Executive Secretary of the Cote d’Ivoire-Ghana Cocoa Initiative (CIGCI) emphasised that “This is in line with the vision of Presidents Alassane Ouattara and Nana Akufo-Addo.”

Higher Producer Price

With the upcoming crop season slated to open a month early, industry watchers are optimistic about a significantly higher producer price as a measure to curb further smuggling.

In the face of the challenges, Ghana has reviewed the crop year’s total expected harvest downwards to 650,000 tons, from an initial estimate of 850,000 tons.

Meanwhile, the government of Ghana is expected to announce a “turnaround strategy” to salvage its heavily-indebted cocoa industry regulatory agency – Cocobod.

New Farmgate Pricing Policy

Minister of Food and Agriculture, Bryan Acheampong, has hinted at drastic reforms in the country’s farmgate or producer price determination policy in favour of cocoa farmers.

“For the first time in the history of this country, we have moved cocoa pricing from net FOB that is paid to farmers to gross FOB,” Acheampong said on Accra-based Peace FM.

Contrary to concerns, he assured that the new policy will leave no adverse impact on the operations of Cocobod, but will instead streamline activities in line with its mandate.

President Nana Akufo Addo is scheduled to make the official announcement of the new pricing policy at the season-opening farmers’ rally on Saturday, 9 September 2023, at Tepa in the Ashanti Region of Ghana.

Editor at Cocoa Post
Kojo is passionate about projecting the voices of cocoa. He also believes in cocoa value addition at origin as a model to redistribute industry wealth.
Cocoa beansCocoa PriceCocoa smugglingCrop seasonFarmgate priceGhana Cocoa BoardProducer Price
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