Nii Moi Thompson calls for independent markets for cocoa farmers

Source The Ghana Report

Dr. Nii Moi Thompson, a renowned economist, has urged the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) to allow cocoa farmers to sell their products independently.

According to the former Director General of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), permitting cocoa farmers to seek out markets to sell their cocoa beans independently will also promote greater autonomy and profitability for the farmers.

“I think we need to restructure the whole sector [COCOBOD] in such a way that we leave the cocoa farmers alone, get COCOBOD out of the way. Let them [farmers] make their money and pay taxes like anybody else. Who buys what farmers produce? They find markets, so let people do that.

“The issue of standards can all be handled…after 150 years, we should let cocoa go and think of non-cocoa, non-primary commodity sectors…I’m saying leave the cocoa farmers alone, like anybody else. If they need services, let them pay for it. There’s so much potential for growing other parts of the economy. Let them have their money,” he opined in an interview with Channel One TV.

He also raised concerns about the low profitability of cocoa exports despite its introduction over centuries.

READ ALSO: Police Impound 800 Bags Of Cocoa Being Smuggled To Ivory Coast

He lamented Ghana’s continued reliance on cocoa after nearly 150 years, labelling it a “shame” and a sign of the country’s failure to diversify its economy and achieve meaningful economic development.

“The first one is the shame of a country like Ghana still depending on cocoa as a core element of its development strategy after almost 150 years since it was introduced. We shouldn’t be talking about cocoa. By now, we should be talking about the industry, high-tech and so on.

“Cocoa now constitutes just 2% of GDP, and your national development strategy is based on a sector that makes up less than 2% of your GDP,” he noted.

He continued, “For a country like Ghana that is growing, the average that we get for cocoa loans is $1.5 billion; the highest I have seen is $2 billion. What is that for a population of 31 million? We depended on it so much. In the past, even our budget cycle was structured around when cocoa-syndicated loans were coming in, and they are insignificant.

“By now, we should be doing about $10 billion through some exports- value-added, we call them strategic exports in the 40-year national development plan. In fact, we are talking about cocoa as a basis for economic strategy. It reflects a lack of vision on our part”.

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