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Minority Urges Government To Increase Cocoa Producer Prices   
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The Minority in Parliament on Thursday urged the government to increase the producer price of cocoa because the current unattractive price incentive was encouraging mass smuggling of the produce.

The Minority said if the issue was not urgently addressed it would have “a very negative” impact on cocoa production, erode gains made in previous crop seasons and further deepen Ghana’s economic woes.

Addressing a press conference in Parliament House Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the Minority Spokesperson on Agriculture and Ranking Member on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs, called for an immediate increase of 50.4 percent in producer price to cushion farmers against declining farm incomes.

He said the current world market prices and exchange rates had impacted negatively on cocoa producer prices and suggested that the government increased the price it paid to producers from the current Ghc212 per 64 kilograms bag to Ghc319 per bag.

Dr Akoto said the income of cocoa farmers was already undermined by the fact that in 2012/2013 crop season, the farmers were awarded only a token increase of 5%, against a domestic inflation rate of some 10% at the time and 13.8% now.

Government last October decided not to increase the price paid to cocoa farmers in the current 2013/2014 crop season owing to the decline in the prices of the commodity on the international market.

However Dr. Owusu Afriyie said that decision by government was wrong because cocoa prices on the international market for the relevant marketing periods did not confirm a drop in dollar prices to justify that move but rather “The sharp devaluation of the cedi in 2013 was a strong basis for an increase in the local price paid to cocoa farmers”.

The Minority insisted that government’s policies for domestic cocoa pricing and farm support had occasioned the smuggling of cocoa beans to neighboring Togo and Cote d’Ivoire.

They said reports showed that a 64 kilogram bag of sells at GH₡240.00, compared to the prevailing GH₡212.00 that the government offers to local farmers.

Dr Owusu Afriyie said the annual loss in output of over 200,000 metric tonnes of cocoa that translated into some 600 million dollars at current world prices meant a reduction in the country’s foreign exchange earnings from the produce which significantly contributes to the current crisis in Ghana’s foreign exchange markets.

“If the current negative economic conditions on cocoa farms persist, the reduction in production and exports is likely to continue in the coming years, and would further reduce foreign exchange earnings from the crop, a situation that is a major contributor to the current crisis in Ghana’s foreign exchange markets,” he said.
Source: GNA

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