The Minority Group in Parliament is demanding an unqualified apology from COCOBOD CEO Joseph Boahen Aidoo for making false statements about Ghana’s 2023/24 cocoa forward sales.
The controversy stems from Mr. Aidoo’s refutation of former President John Dramani Mahama’s criticism of the government’s cocoa farm-gate pricing. Mr. Mahama had argued that cocoa farmers were being shortchanged, citing the high world market price of cocoa.
In response, Mr. Aidoo claimed that a “greater percentage” of Ghana’s cocoa for the 2023/24 season was sold forward for $2,600, making it unfair to compare the farm-gate price to the current market price.
However, the Minority Group has produced evidence that only 36.2% of the cocoa was sold forward, leaving the remaining 63.8% to be sold at spot prices, which have been significantly higher than $2,600.
This revelation contradicts Mr. Aidoo’s assertion and indicates that cocoa farmers could have received a higher price for their produce had the government negotiated better terms for the forward sales.
The Minority Group is therefore calling on Mr. Aidoo to apologize to Mr. Mahama and the nation for his misleading statements. They also intend to engage with cocoa farmers across the country to inform them of the government’s shortcomings in securing fair prices for their produce.
Below is the full statement by the Minority
21st November, 2023.
COCOBOD CEO LIED OVER COCOA FORWARD SALES; HE MUST RENDER AN UNQUALIFIED APOLOGY TO PRESIDENT MAHAMA IMMEDIATELY
The Minority in Parliament has come by indisputable evidence that exposes a blatant lie peddled by the Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, about Ghana’s 2023/24 cocoa forward sales.
It would be recalled that, shortly after the announcement of the farm-gate price of cocoa for the 2023/24 cocoa season, former President Mahama criticized the government for shortchanging cocoa farmers by pegging the farm-gate price at a paltry GHS1,308 despite a 46-year record-high surge in the world market price.
President Mahama’s comments were grounded on the fact that our hard-working cocoa farmers deserve far more of the international market price, than they were given by the insensitive Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government, particularly given the unbearable cost of living and hardships they currently reeling under.
However, in a so-called Open Letter to former President Mahama dated 12th September 2023, the Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD Joseph Boahen Aidoo, took issues with President Mahama. He questioned President Mahama’s understanding of how the producer price of cocoa is determined and claimed that the former President erroneously used $3,600 as the world market price to calculate the producer price.
In that statement, the COCOBOD CEO claimed that consistent with practice, Ghana’s cocoa beans are “mostly sold forward”, and that “the 2023/24 crop was sold between October 2022 and March 2023 at international prices; ranging between $2,200 per ton and $2,400 per ton.” The incompetent and dishonest COCOBOD CEO went on to say that, “the international price of cocoa then began to increase in April 2023, when a greater percentage of the 2023/24 crop had already been sold.”
It has now emerged that the CEO of COCOBOD told deliberate falsehood in his desperate attempt to justify the rip-off that the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government has meted out to our hard-working cocoa farmers.
According to documents submitted to Parliament by COCOBOD as part of processes for the approval of the syndicated loan for cocoa purchases for the 2023/24 crop season, it was disclosed that only 36.2% of our cocoa for this season was sold forward and used as collateral to secure the $800 million syndicated loan.
Specifically, Paragraph 7.2 of the Joint Memorandum to Parliament by the Minister for Food and Agriculture and the Minister of Finance on the approval of the terms of the $800 million syndicated facility partly reads; “The facility does not add to Ghana’s debt stock. The loan is backed by cocoa sales contracts, and the quantity of cocoa collateralized for its repayment is about 36.20% of the anticipated production”.
For the avoidance of doubt, 36.2% of the projected cocoa output for the 2023/24 season translates to a paltry 307,700 tons. This volume of cocoa cannot by any stretch of imagination constitute a “greater percentage” of our projected annual production volume (i.e 850,000 tons) as claimed by the CEO of COCOBOD in his deceitful response to President Mahama.
Simply put, the incompetent and dishonest CEO of COCOBOD lied to the good people of Ghana when he claimed that a “greater percentage” of Ghana’s cocoa for the 2023/24 season was sold forward at a price of $2,600.
COCOBOD further disclosed to Parliament that the remainder of 63.8% of our 2023/24 cocoa output, which translates to 542,300 tons would be sold on the market at spot prices, which has been ranging between $3,600 and $4,000. This is contained at paragraph 4.2 of the Joint Memorandum. If COCOBOD succeeds in selling the remainder at the minimum spot price of $3,600 per ton as a worst-case scenario, COCOBOD would have shortchanged our hard-working cocoa farmers to tune of $542,300,000 (GHC6.5billion).
As a matter of fact, further information submitted to Parliament indicates that, COCOBOD has already sold part of the remaining 63.8% of our cocoa output for the 2023/24 season at spot prices ranging between $3,500 and $3,770 per ton from October to mid-November 2023.
Clearly, Former President Mahama was spot on when he said that the insensitive Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government is shortchanging cocoa farmers whose toil and sacrifices continue to sustain the country’s economy.
The incompetent and dishonest CEO of COCOBOD in his bid to deceive our hard working farmers, threw truth and integrity to the dogs and sought to attack the credibility of President Mahama for exposing this grand heist.
The Minority Group wishes to state for the records, that Joseph Boahen Aidoo has lied to cocoa farmers and the entire nation. He had no basis whatsoever to impugn ill motive into what was a statement of fact by the respected former President. He therefore owes President Mahama, hardworking cocoa farmers and the entire nation an unqualified apology.
In the coming days, the Minority Group in Parliament shall in conjunction with the NDC Communications Bureau, embark on a series of engagements with cocoa farmers across the country on this subject. Our hard working farmers deserve to know the whole truth about this gross injustice that has been meted out to them by the corrupt and insensitive Akufo-Addo/Bawumia/NPP government.
HON. ERIC OPOKU
(MP for Asunafo South and Ranking Member for Food and Agriculture)