The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has sealed a syndicated loan deal of $1.3 billion with 28 international banks, including four local banks, for the purchase of cocoa in the 2020/2021 crop season.
The amount would help COCOBOD to purchase 900,000 metric tonnes of cocoa for this crop season which opens on October 1, 2020.
The signing of the syndicated loan deal, which was done virtually, was witness by officials of Bank of Ghana and representatives of the Cocoa Purchasing companies in the country.
Arranged by ten international banks, namely ICBC, DZ Bank, ABN-AMRO, MUFG, NATIXIS, Rabobank, GHIB, Bank of China, Societe Generale and Standard Chartered, the pre-export trade finance facility is also being financed by four local banks, Absa Ghana, Ecobank, Stanbic Bank and SG Ghana.
Speaking after signing the loan deal, the Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, Mr Joseph Boahene Aidoo explained that the loan would be repaid over a period of seven months, stressing that the first tranche of the loan would be released by the lenders in October 1, 2020.
The COCOBOD Chief Executive Officer said since 1990/1991 crop season when COCOBOD started signing the syndicated loans, it had never defaulted in payment, saying in the 2019/2020 crop season the loan was paid two months ahead of time.
Mr Aidoo said the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his Ivorian counterpart Alassane Ouattara, had secured a Living Income Differential deal with international cocoa buyers, which provides a guarantee of $400 per tonne of cocoa for farmers.
"This LID has enabled the government to increase the farm gate price of cocoa for this year's crop season by 28 per cent thus bringing the price of a bag of cocoa to GH¢660.00," he said.
He said the government was implementing the National Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme, including Mass Spraying and Pruning, provision of free seedlings to farmers, subsidised fertiliser and cocoa roads to bring sustainability to the cocoa industry and improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers.
The COCOBOD paid glowing tribute to cocoa farmers whose toil continued to help the country to rake in more foreign exchange through the sale of cocoa beans.
The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu-Afriyie Akoto, in his remarks lauded COCOBOD for its ability to raise $1.3 billion in spite of the difficult economic challenges occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic.
He said as part of efforts to revamp the cocoa industry, government had secured $600 million for the Cocoa Productivity Enhance Programme, to among others, finance the felling and replanting of cocoa trees affected by the swollen shoot disease.
The Chairman of the Board of Directors of COCOBOD, Mr Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, said the government was working to rehabilitate old cocoa farms to enhance the productivity of the cocoa industry.
He said the government had cocoa farmers at heart and would continue to initiate programmes to make the cocoa farming industry attractive to the youth.
Yuriko Noguchi of MUFG who spoke on behalf of the arrangers of the loan said the lenders were happy to assist COCOBOD to raise funds for cocoa purchases this crop season.
She said in spite of the difficult economic conditions, occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic, COCOBOD had been able to secure such huge amount from 28 international banks.