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Ghana Faces Mounting Debt To Cocoa Purchasing Agents As Coronavirus Pandemic Hits Exports

Cocobod said to owe US$208 million to licensed buying companies

Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) is said to be having a hard time honouring arrears owed to its purchasing agents following a coronavirus pandemic induced slowdown in export and sales activities, Bloomberg has reported.

Lockdown restrictions at destination ports have weighed on cocoa shipments from the world’s second-biggest producer in recent months, Ghana Cocoa Board spokesman Fiifi Boafo told Bloomberg by phone on Friday.

According to sources who pleaded anonymity, the arrears may have piled to about 1.2 billion cedis (US$208 million), but COCOBOD spokesman, Mr Boafo, declined comment on the outstanding amount.

The monies were mostly owed to foreign-owned licensed buying companies, he said.

Purchasing agents typically secure beans from farmers in the interior for delivery at the regulator’s warehouses at two major ports.

The Chief Executive of the Ghana cocoa regulator, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, warned in April the West African nation risked losing up to US$1 billion in revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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The situation maybe worsened by price falls in February coupled with decline in production forecasts occasioned by drought.

Sales have begun to normalize and that should enable the regulator to pay the arrears, said Boafo.

“I’m confident that we will pay all outstanding debts owed to the licensed buying companies in the coming weeks,” he said.

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