Cocoa Beans Importation Propaganda Collapses

Attempt to spin a move by the management of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) to give approval for the importation of cocoa beans from neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria to make it look like an unprecedented act just to score a political point has backfired.

This was after the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, through a letter, dated January 22, 2024, granted approval to Afrotropic Cocoa Processing Company Limited to import the product.

Unfortunately, the said letter, which strangely got leaked into the public domain, has become shocking news to a section of the public, who perhaps are unaware of the practice, leading to widespread criticism of COCOBOD officials over the weekend.

But The Anchor’s digging has established that Ghana has been purchasing the beans from some of its neighboring countries and elsewhere since 2005, under the erstwhile President John Agyekum Kufuor administration.

Indeed, records available showed that as recent as 2016 under former President John Dramani Mahama administration, the Managing Director (MD) of Barry Callebaut Ghana Limited, was also granted permission by COCOBOD to purchase 100 MT of cocoa beans from Ecuador.

A letter dated November 22, 2016, signed on behalf of then Chief Executive Officer (CEO) by James Kofi Kutsoati, a Deputy Chief Executive (OPS), said, “We write to inform you that Management has approved your request to import 100 MT of cocoa beans from Ecuador as part of your operational requirements for a particular recipe for a customer.”

In February of the same year, Minister for Finance Seth Terkper reported to Parliament that a total of fifteen thousand (15, 000) tonnes of light crop cocoa beans were imported into the country from Cote d’Ivoire in the 2014/2015 crop season.

The minister was answering a question filed by the then Member of Parliament (MP) for Kwadaso, Dr. Owusu Afriyoe Akoto, who had sought to know the tonnage of cocoa beans imported by each of the cocoa processing companies operating in the country during the 2014/2015 crop year.

Mr. Terkper said that was not the first-time cocoa beans had been imported in the country, as records available showed that the practice has lasted since 2005.

“In fact, in 2008, the same company, Barry Callebaut, imported 15, 000 tonnes of light crop cocoa beans into the country from Nigeria and Togo,” Mr. Terkper said.

Over the weekend, a letter by COCOBOD granting permission to a company to import cocoa beans from Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria into Ghana was mischievously leaked into the media.

The development, which came as a surprise to some on the internet, was contained in a letter signed by Mr. Boahen Aidoo.

The document dated, January 25, 2024, addressed to the Managing Director of Afrotropic Cocoa Processing Company Limited, served as a response to an earlier letter by the MD dated January 22, 2024.

Afrotropic Cocoa Processing Limited (ACPL), established in 2005, is a Ghanaian company that manufactures quality primary products such as cocoa liquor, cocoa cake and cocoa butter sold in reputable companies across the world.

The MD had written to the management of COCOBOD to permit his outfit to make the purchases.

In the CEO’s response, titled “Re: Importation of cocoa beans from Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria,” Mr. Aidoo, on behalf of the management, said they have approved the request by the MD to import the product from the two countries.

Per the letter, Cocoa Processing Company is expected to purchase 2, 500 tonnes of cocoa beans from Cote d’Ivoire and additional 1, 000 tonnes from Nigeria. The importation is expected to be done solely by sea through the Tema Port.

“We write to inform you that Management has approved your request to import 2, 500 tonnes of cocoa beans from Cote d’Ivoire and 1, 000 tonnes from Nigeria. This should however be done only by sea through the Tema Port.”

All information including name of vessel, shipment schedule and quantity of beans to be imported, expected date and time of arrival were to be provided.

Mr. Aidoo directed that all the necessary authorizations should be done with the right institutions before the importation starts.

“In connection with this approval, you are required to obtain all necessary authorization from the relevant state institutions including Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority before commencing the importation,” the letter said in conclusion.

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