The Ghana Board Cocoa (COCOBOD) says it will sanction Licenced Buying Companies (LBCs) found to have adjusted their weighing scales to cheat cocoa farmers.
ï¿½Once we receive a field report from Ghana Standards Board citing any LBCs for adjusting their weighing scales, the internal-marketing-of-cocoa laws will apply,ï¿½ said Mr. Noah Amenyah, COCOBODï¿½s Manager of Public Affairs.
ï¿½The LBCs have no right to adjust weighing scales. If the scales develop faults or need to be changed, it is the responsibility of Ghana Standards Board to inspect and recommend,ï¿½ Amenyah told Business and Financial Times in an interview.
ï¿½We will write to the LBCs for a meeting on the issue. We expect the LBCs to behave professionally and not cheat the farmers.ï¿½
Cocoa farmers in the country have persistently complained about unfair weighing scales being used by some LBCs, which tend to favour the buyer over them. The latest group to register its complaint is the Jomoro Cocoa Farmers Association in the Western Region.
According to the cocoa farmers, since most of them weigh their cocoa beans in their homes before sending the commodity to the various sheds, they are able to detect the disparities on different scales -- which are to their disadvantage.
ï¿½This dubious activity is posing a serious threat to the cocoa sector, as some of the farmers are contemplating exploring alternative avenues of selling their produce in order to get the real value for their produce --while others are abandoning cocoa farming entirely,ï¿½ the farmers said in a statement.
ï¿½It is only proper to give back to us our fair share of the proceeds from our toil and labour. Cocoa farming used to be a lucrative venture for people living in rural areas, but the trend has changed,ï¿½ the statement added.
A recent survey conducted by Cesult Services, a business-development services provider, in 14 communities within Ashanti, Central and the Western Regions shows that there is widespread deliberate maladjustment of the weighing scales used for weighing cocoa.
According to the survey, the weighing scales used by the LBCs are often adjusted to suit the buyer, and thus farmers are not getting value for their produce.
The research estimated that as a result of such unfair practices, cocoa farmers in the areas are losing around GHï¿½7.5 million annually.
Mr. Amenyah disclosed that COCOBOD in collaboration with the Cocoa, Coffee and Shea nut Farmers Association has imported 4,000 weighing scales and test-holds to support farmers.
Currently, he said, the machines have been distributed to all the regional offices awaiting certification from the Ghana Standards Board.
ï¿½The Association has agreed with the Ghana Standards Board to go round to inspect and standardise the new test-holds to ensure their efficacy before they can be given to the farmers,ï¿½ he said.
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