Cocoa smuggling to Togo threatens Ghana’s industry and farmers’ livelihoods

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Ghana's cocoa industry faces a significant challenge as smugglers exploit dilapidated cocoa warehouses in the Volta and regions, leading to substantial losses of moist cocoa beans to neighbouring .

Cocoa farmers in the region are grappling with substandard infrastructure, including structurally compromised buying points like Jinijiso, Teteman, Guaman, and Lolobi , as well as Hlefi, Saviefe, and Dodome.

Farmers expressed concerns about the safety of their cocoa beans due to these inadequate facilities. This insecurity, coupled with the inconsistent availability of the designated buyer, the Produce Buying Company (PBC), has led some farmers to sell to buyers in where a ready market and cash are available.

Adding to the challenge, Togolese buyers are acquiring moist cocoa beans, bypassing the need for farmers to ensure thorough drying, unlike Ghanaian buyers who purchase only dried beans.

In contrast, the Ghanaian government raised the price of a bag of 64 kg of dried cocoa beans to GH¢800 in October 2022. Although farmers initially accepted this price, the lure of higher prices from Togolese buyers complicated the situation, leading to increased smuggling.

It is suspected that the Produce Buying Company (PBC) may face a decline in cocoa tonnage due to the smuggling trend.

The absence of robust warehouses and buyer commitments prompts concerns among farmers. A veteran cocoa farmer stressed the need for the government to fulfil its promises and ensure equitable distribution of incentives to farmers.

Enhanced border security measures were also recommended to counter smuggling.

While complaints about warehouse conditions have been forwarded to authorities for resolution, the issue of smuggling remains unresolved. The challenge persists as Togolese buyers offer higher prices for moist cocoa beans, creating incentives for smuggling.

Ghana's cocoa industry, a vital contributor to the country's economy, requires urgent attention and measures to safeguard the livelihoods of farmers and the stability of the sector.

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