The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has described as belated, a documentary by JoyNews which seeks to expose tamperings of cocoa weighing scales in Ghana by licensed buying companies.
According to COCOBOD, the documentary, albeit commendable, is nonetheless belated and does not shed light on the measures which have been taken to address the problem since 2018 when the film was produced.
Deputy Chief Executive of COCOBOD in charge of Operations, Dr Emmanuel Opoku, speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, August 5, 2020, noted that COCOBOD has put in place a number of measures to stop the tampering of weighing scales within the cocoa sector in Ghana.
“A combination of immediate term punitive and preventive reform measures has been adopted to resolve the problem,” according to him.
The JoyNews documentary seeks to expose the public to a condemnable act which, regrettably, counts among a number of challenges which have plagued the cocoa sector for decades.
But Dr Opoku said weighing scales tampering “is also one of the ills that the Management of COCOBOD has already unravelled and presently taking steps to address.”
He stated that “Management takes this issue of weighing scale tampering very seriously and has on several occasions condemned the practice and similar acts, and at all times highlighted the consequential regressive impact they have on interventions that COCOBOD has put in place to improve the earnings and livelihoods of cocoa farmers.”
” It is for this reason that we believe the general public could benefit from information on measures presently being implemented to deal with the problem permanently, and to ensure that cocoa farmers receive fair and deserving incomes for their work.”
According to him, following a preliminary inspection tour of LBC sheds, led by the Chief Executive of COCOBOD in 2018, the Management commissioned the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) to perform a thorough inspection of all weighing scales used at LBC sheds (cocoa purchasing and weighing points) across the country.
“This was necessary to gather empirical evidence on the extent of the problem, and to inform policy and strategic decisions, ” he added.
“Based on the report from GSA, which found that the practice was systemic, Management has settled on two solutions; one is a preventive reform measure and the other is an immediate term punitive measure.”
“The reform or preventive measure involves the introduction of GSA recommended electronic sealable weighing scales which meet a set of tamper-proof standards – so that scale adjustments will be a thing of the past. To provide the needed guidance and ensure the smooth rollout of this reform, the decision has been taken to import the electronic sealable weighing scales, starting this year, and distribute them at a cost to the LBCs.”
Meanwhile, he said, COCOBOD has put in place a punitive measure to surcharge any defaulting LBC with the monetary equivalent of the aggregated weight from cocoa sheds across the country that the LBC in question may have short-changed the unsuspecting farmers, once GSA confirms adjustment of such weighing scales.
“Management of COCOBOD after its own discovery and confirmation by GSA held a meeting with the LBCs and informed them about the aforementioned measures and the sanctions thereof.
Subsequently, various media reports, including one titled, “COCOBOD To End Cocoa Scale Tampering By Introducing Electronic Scales”, which is available on peacefmonline.com and another titled, “Directive to use E-scales to weigh cocoa beans positive” by the Daily Graphic (graphic.com.gh), among others, have cited the Chief Executive, Hon. Joseph Boahen Aidoo and other members of COCOBOD’s management making public statements about the new measure to end scale tampering.”
“Obviously, continuous monitoring and policing will be necessary to ensure the effective implementation of such a measure to eliminate a systemic problem. The work of the media in shining light on the situation and improvement as we progress, as well as the vigilance of our field staff and the cocoa farmers themselves, will together play a crucial role in eliminating this cocoa canker.”
“We are also confident that COCOBOD’s Farmer Data/Cocoa Information Management System, which is underway, when ready will improve overall monitoring of the supply chain including purchasing, weighing and grading of cocoa, enhance records keeping, allow the early detection and flagging of inconsistencies and anomalies in records and ease traceability,” he added.
” Detected issues can then be promptly addressed.
The Management of COCOBOD, as presently constituted, has maintained a farmer-focused approach to regulating and managing Ghana’s cocoa sector; hence, the introduction and intensification of Productivity Enhancement Programmes (PEPs), such as the Mass Pruning Exercise, the Hand Pollination Exercise, the Subsidised Fertilizer Distribution, the Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme, among others.”
“The overarching aim of the PEPs and the achievement of the Living Income Differential (LID) is to safeguard the immediate and future welfare of cocoa farmers by improving their earnings, so, they can afford improved standards of living.”