A new bill, the Ghana Cocoa Board (Amendment) Bill 2017, which will transfer ministerial oversight over Cocobod to the Minister of Food and Agriculture and reposition the board to deliver the target of producing 1m tonnes of cocoa annually, has been approved by parliament.
According to a report on the bill by the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee, per PNDC Law 81, the Minister for Trade exercises responsibility for Cocobod. However, the government considers it necessary to transfer the ministerial responsibility to the Minister of Food and Agriculture, the report said.
Moving for the adoption of the report, the chairman of the committee, Ben Abdallah Banda, said it became imperative to amend PNDC Law 81 to achieve the government’s objective.
The amendment means the Minister of Food and Agriculture will now be responsible for approval of prices of cocoa, coffee, and shea to be paid to farmers, issuance of general directions to Cocobod relating to the performance of its functions, and the making of regulations to ensure the effective performance of the functions of the board.
At the committee consideration stage of the bill, officials of Cocobod had informed members that the intended change in ministerial responsibility was to properly focus on cocoa production as the foremost function of the board.
The cocoa industry plays an important role in Ghana’s economy, employing about 800,000 people and generating about US$2bn annually in foreign exchange earnings.
Cocoa output reached a peak of 1m tonnes in the 2010-11 harvest season but has ranged between 800,000-900,000 tonnes since then as the sector struggled with diseased and aged trees. According to a Bloomberg report on September 29, production fell to a five-year low of fewer than 800,000 tonnes in the 2019-20 harvest season that just ended.
For the new (2020-21) harvest season which began this month, the government has raised the purchase price of cocoa from farmers by 28 percent to GH¢10,560 per tonne. This follows the successful implementation of the Living Income Differential (LID), whereby international buyers of cocoa pay an extra US$400 per tonne on top of the world market price to shore up the incomes of farmers.