NDC downplays impact of government’s $600 million loan facility to boost cocoa production
The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has predicted doom for government’s plans to revamp the cocoa sector in the country with a $600 million credit facility secured from the African Development Bank (AfDB), ABC News can report.
The pessimism of the largest opposition party is on the basis that some of the proposed use of the funds submitted by government under the facility have failed in the past while others do not inure to the benefit of the cocoa farmers in any way.
It emerged at the 64th Cabinet meeting and seventh retreat that Government had obtained $600 million to support and increase cocoa production from the current 700,000 metric tonnes to 1.5 million metric tonnes in the next seven years, starting next year.
According to the CEO of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, $200 million out of the money would be invested in domestic processing of cocoa beans, $82.7 million would be directed at the rehabilitation of moribund farms, $50 million would be used for the expansion of warehouse capacities, $140.2 million would go into the fight of the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease, inter alia.
But the Member of Parliament for Juaboso, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, speaking on Peace FM said the NDC finds it difficult to trust the government given its track record.
According to him, it was the government’s inability to support farmers that led to the reduction in the tonnage of cocoa production in the country from the 900,000 to the current 700,000.
“What the government has proposed will not help the cocoa farmer. The government says it will use $5 million of the credit facility to procure chocolates. Who does that? At the end of the day how does the procurement of the chocolates improve cocoa production in the country?” he quizzed.
“Secondly, government says part of the money will be used to recruit more pollinators to enhance pollination. But since 2017 and 2018 cocoa seasons, government has recruited 20,000 and 30,000 pollinators respectively but production of cocoa keeps sinking – it has dropped from 900 and something metric tonnes to about 750,000 metric tonnes,” he added.
The Juaboso MP insisted “What is important is that whatever loan government acquires in the name of cocoa sector must have a direct correlation to the development of cocoa farming in this country”