Gov’t urged to empower cocoa farmers 

Story: News Desk

An economist, Dr. Nii Moi Thompson, has advocated  for a restructuring of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD).

He suggested  that COCOBOD’s direct involvement with cocoa farmers should be discontinued, allowing farmers to independently seek out markets to sell their cocoa beans, thereby promoting greater autonomy and profitability for the farmers.

In an interview with the media , Dr. Thompson proposed that cocoa farmers should be empowered to sell their produce independently, earning their own revenue, which would then be subject to taxation, similar to other businesses, promoting economic independence and contributions to the nation’s tax base.

“This is my personal view, I think we need to restructure the whole sector [COCOBOD] in such a way that we leave the cocoa farmers alone, get COCOBOD out of the way. Let them [farmers] make their money and pay taxes, like anybody else, who buys what farmers produce? They find markets, let people do that,” he said.  

The former Director General of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) emphasised that Ghana should diversify its economy by developing other sectors, reducing its heavy reliance on cocoa, and shifting its focus away from the cocoa industry to promote more balanced and sustainable economic growth.

“The issue of standards can all be handled…after 150 years, we should let cocoa go and think of non-cocoa, non-primary commodity sectors…I’m saying leave the cocoa farmers alone, like anybody else, if they need services let them pay for it. There’s so much potential for growing other parts of the economy, let them have their money,” he opined.

He expressed dismay that despite centuries of cocoa production, Ghana has failed to achieve $10 billion in annual cocoa exports, questioning the country’s lack of progress in the industry.×280&!4&btvi=2&fsb=1&dtd=363He lamented Ghana’s continued reliance on cocoa after nearly 150 years, labelling it a “shame” and a sign of the country’s failure to diversify its economy and achieve meaningful economic development

“The first one is the shame of a country like Ghana still depending on cocoa, as a core element of its development strategy after almost 150 years, since it was introduced. We shouldn’t be talking about cocoa, by now we should be talking about the industry, high-tech and so on and so forth.

“Cocoa now constitutes just 2% of GDP, and your national development strategy is based on a sector that makes up less than 2% of your GDP.”

He added, “for a country like Ghana that is growing, the average that we get for cocoa loans is $1.5 billion the highest I have seen is $2 billion, what is that for a population of 31 million? We depended on it so much. In the past, even our budget cycle was structured around when cocoa-syndicated loans were coming in, and they are insignificant. 

“By now, we should be doing about $10 billion through some exports- value-added, we call them strategic exports in the 40-year national development plan. In fact, we are talking about cocoa as a basis for economic strategy. It reflects a lack of vision on our part.”

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