Ghana Cocoa Board on Tuesday signed a $1.3 billion syndicated loan agreement with local and international banks for the purchase of cocoa for the 2020/21 season.
Parliament in August approved the syndicated loan, which comes with an interest rate of 1.75 per cent.
It was the first time that the agreement had to be signed virtually with the 24 international banks and four local ones because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The International banks include Amro Bank, Bank of China Limited in London, Standard Chartered Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Ghana International Bank, Cooperative Rabobank, UA and Societe General.
The local banks are Ecobank Ghana Limited, Societe Generale Ghana Limited, Absa Ghana Limited and Stanbic Bank Ghana Limited.
Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, the Chief Executive of Ghana Cocoa Board, said the facility would be used to purchase at least 900,000 tonnes of cocoa from farmers and would be repaid in over seven months.
He commended the reliable funding institutions for their continuous trust in the operations of the country’s cocoa industry, which had culminated in the ever willingness to pull resources together for the annual syndications.
“We have also returned this trust by ensuring that we never defaulted in repaying the loans since the 1992/1993 crop season when the first one was signed. We have on several occasions repay the loan ahead of schedule. The 2019/2020 syndicated loan, for instance, was re-paid two months ahead of schedule,” he said.
To ensure improved incomes and better livelihoods for farmers, Mr Aidoo said Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire introduced the Living Income Differential pricing mechanism which had resulted in the addition of a $400 to the price of every tonne of cocoa sold by the two countries.
With this, he said President Akufo-Addo announced a 28 per cent increase in farm-gate cocoa prices for the 2020/2021 crop season, which begins on October 1, 2021.
He explained that Ghanaian farmers would take home Ghc660 per bag of 64kg premium quality cocoa sold.
The CEO said, besides, the remunerative producer prices, the government would implement the Productivity Enhancement Programmes and other interventions such as the National Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme, Hand Pollination Programme, Mass Pruning Exercise, Mass Spraying Exercise, Free Seedlings Distribution, Subsidized Fertilizer Distribution and the Cocoa Roads Improvement Initiative, to ensure a sustainable cocoa economy and improved socio-economic livelihood for the farmers.
Dr Owusu-Afriyie Akoto, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, thanked the financial institutions for the gesture, stressing the loan facility would help the country to achieve its production targets.
He pledged to strengthen the partnerships for the development of the agricultural sector, adding that the future of Ghana’s cocoa sector looked brighter.
Madam Yuriko Noguchi, who spoke on behalf of the Lead Arrangers for the loan, lauded the management of COCOBOD for professionalism and commitment to the success of the cocoa sector.
She pledged the financial institutions continuous support to COCOBOD to support farmers to improve productivity and to accelerate economic growth.