LBCs kicks against cocoa sectors new policy

Licensed Buying Companies (LBC) in Ghana are said to be seething with anger over recent directive by Chief Executive of COCOBOD, Dr Stephen Opuni that all trucks carrying cocoa beans must offload at the Kaase take-over-center in the Ashanti region.

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trucks carrying cocoa beans
trucks

Describing the directive as “unproductive”, managers of the LBCs say Dr Opuni’s policy has compounded their already worsening woes under his leadership, as the directive has created a scene where hundreds of trucks lineup at Kaase for over a week to be offloaded.

trucks carrying cocoa beans
trucks carrying cocoa beans

Ghana presently has three cocoa take-over-centers, Tema in the Greater Accra region, Takoradi in the Western region and Kaase in the Ashanti region. In terms of size and capacity, the Kaase off taking center is reported to be the smallest.

Until the recent directive, haulage trucks off loaded cocoa at the three offloading centers, a situation the truck drivers and managers of the LBCs say was much convenient compared to the new directive that all trucks should first offload at Kaase center.

According to a source close to the LBCs, cocoa districts in Brong Ahafo Region, the Northern and other parts of the Southern district of Western Region which were hitherto sent to either Tema or Takoradi now offload at the small Kaase cocoa port.

While tagging Dr Opuni’s directive as rare and ‘unproductive” in the history of the cocoa industry at least in the past five years, the source said the decision to offload all trucks at Kaase is slowing down the pace of takeover by COCOBOD.

When The aL-hAJJ visited the Kaase cocoa takeover center over the weekend, over 150 trucks had lined up at the mercy of the weather waiting to be offloaded.

Some drivers who spoke to The aL-hAJJ noted that “when you are lucky, you will spend two weeks here but sometimes your truck can be parked here for almost a month. Sometimes only 20 trucks are offloaded a day and look at the number of trucks line up here?”

“When we had the luxury to offload either at Takoradi or Tema, sometimes it takes us two days or five days to get offloaded but now the situation is different. As we speak, the LBCs have tonnes of cocoa lodged at their depots but the trucks are not ready to carry them here,” the driver added.

This paper gathered that the delay is occurring at the time cocoa beans have flooded the farms ready to be bought by the LBCs. “These are some of the things that push the LBCs to smuggle cocoa to neighboring countries because they need to raise money to pay back their loans,” a truck driver noted.

“If care is not taken, this directive will collapse the cocoa industry. Why would you direct that all trucks should offload at Kaase when there are bigger centres like Tema and Takoradi? Honestly, if this needless delay is not immediately halted, the cocoa industry in Ghana could collapse,” an incensed cocoa dealer noted.

“When vehicles pile up this way, COCOBOD usually puts a circular to redirect the incoming vehicles to Takoradi and Tema for the convenience of everyone and it also save cost of double handling” he stated.

According to him, if the situation remain the same for some time, not only LBCs would suffer the consequences but Ghana as well, since COCOBOD may struggle to get even 700, 000 tons, a deficit of over 250, 000 tons for its ambitious 1 million target.

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