Kumasi — The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the COCOBOD, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, has disclosed that between 100,000 and 200,000 metric tonnes of cocoa beans have been smuggled out of Ghana to the neighbouring countries, from January to date, this year.
"We believe that there are some high powered businessmen involved in the smuggling of cocoa beans...looking at the volume of cocoa beans being smuggled, it is not something that a cocoa farmer can do"...no farmer will be able to transport such volumes," he noted.
Mr Aidoo, who raised these concerns here in Kumasi last Friday, during an interaction with journalists said that smuggling of cocoa beans from Ghana to neighboring countries, such as Togo and La Cote D'Ivoire, was having a negative toll on the Ghanaian economy.
He said some suspects were arrested transporting cocoa beans in articulated trucks to Togo, and cautioned that offenders could be sentenced to jail for five years minimum and maximum 10 years.
In a related development, Mr Aidoo expressed concern about the smuggling of fertiliser, and said the fertiliser policy would be reviewed, to remove the government's subsidy so that the cost of the commodity would be added to the price of cocoa for farmers.
The CEO said that the free supply of fertiliser has intensified smuggling of the product, and that he had meetings with the farmers to accept to buy fertiliser themselves.
He urged cocoa farmers to use organic manure, such as poultry compost, to rejuvenate the soil for higher yield.
Mr Aidoo appealed to journalists to help educate farmers on the use of organic manure.
On government's decision to open the cocoa season this September instead of October, he explained that it would enable the COCOBOD to guarantee the quality of the cocoa beans and also enable cocoa farmers to get money ahead of reopening of schools.
"When schools are opened in October, it affect farmers as most of them would borrow money for upkeep of children and family," he said.