At a time the Akufo Addo led-government is touring world capitals with cup in hand begging donors to support the administration implement its policies, 24000 tons of cocoa beans that could have raked in two hundred and eighty three million, two hundred thousand Ghana cedis (GHC283, 200,000) to the nation have been left to rot at the Katoen Natie warehouse at Takoradi port, The aL-hAJJ’s investigations have uncovered.
The 24000 tons of cocoa beans, our investigations unearthed, were purchased by Cocoa Marketing Company (CMC) on behalf of COCOBOD in November 2016 for shipment outside the country to prospective buyers.
While the CMC, which handles warehousing and port operations on behalf of COCOBOD was said to have stored the beans at the Katoen Natie warehouse awaiting buyers, Dr Stephen Opuni, the then Chief Executive of COCOBOD was dismiss from his post following change of government.
As a result of the dismissal of Dr Opuni and the dissolution of the governing Board of COCOBOD, “we could not get official clearance for us to sell the beans on behalf of COCOBOD so the beans remained in the warehouse,” a source at CMC told this paper.
The source who pleaded strict anonymity told The aL-hAJJ that “they (CMC) could only sell the beans when COCOBOD approves the transaction. But at the time this particular consignment was ready for shipment, COCOBOD had no Chief Executive and by then the Board too had been dissolved…at the same time, the new government had instructed that we halt all our operations.”
“There were buyers who we could have sold the beans to but because we were instructed not to go ahead with our operations, we kept the beans in the warehouse until we get clearance. When the new CEO was appointed, we drew his attention to it but it took him some time to settle so it was only recently that he asked us to go ahead with the sale…but when we checked, the beans had caked,” the sourced added.
Another senior official of CMC told this paper that “because the beans had caked and not good to be sold on the international market, we decided to segregate and re-bag the “good” ones in order not to sell bad product to the buyers but even that is becoming difficult because the beans have caked to the extent that, instead of using shovel to scoop it we are now using pick axes.”
Asked if they could not have sold the beans in its present state to buyers, the source retorted “that would be bad for Ghana. Ghana is noted for having one of the best cocoa beans in the world so if we sell rotten beans to the buyers and it is found out, we could be sanctioned or banned. For now the money that was used to purchase these beans would go to waste because we may not be able to raise it by selling these beans, not to talk of making profit.”
The aL-hAJJ’s checks revealed that last year, the average FOB per ton of cocoa was sold at US$2950. This, our source at CMC said “if clearance had been given for the beans to be sold, COCOBOD would have made GHC283, 200,000 for the 24000 tons.”
The source further explained that “Katoen Natie warehouse has four sheds with each shed able to hold 6000 tons of cocoa so in all we are talking of 24000 tons of cocoa beans that have gone bad…COCOBOD have now incurred lost because they would have to pay us because we are their agents and they would have to pay the owners of the warehouse too.”
Responding as to whether proceeds of the re-bagged cocoa beans cannot be used to offset COCOBOD’s loss, the source stated “we are not even too sure what we will do with the re-gabbed beans…because nobody will be ready to buy this caked beans and if we decide to mix it with new consignment and the buyers get to know and report us, Ghana could face sanctions.”
Source: The aL-hAJJ