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Friday, August 6, 2021

Parliament confident relocation of COCOBOD from Trade to Agric Ministry will ensure 1 million tonnes production is met

Parliament has expressed confidence, the relocation of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) from the Ministry of Trade and Industry to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture will ensure Ghana meets the long targeted annual production of 1 million tonnes production.

That target was only met in 2011 and since then, production levels have fallen below that annually.

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In a bid to ensure that is achieved, the Akufo-Addo led government upon assumption of office found it expedient to transfer the ministerial responsibility to the Agric Ministry to ensure the country achieves the targeted annual 1 million tonnes production.

That proposal saw the light of the day in October 2020, when Parliament passed and approved amendments to the Ghana Cocoa Board Bill to provide a new interpretation for the term “Minister.”

Section 39 of the existing Ghana Cocoa Board Act, 1984 (PN.D.CL. 81) stipulated that the Minister responsible for matters referred to in P.N.D.C. Law 81 is the Minister responsible for Trade.

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COCOBOD was established in March 1984 by PNDC Law 81 to formulate appropriate policies to facilitate the production, processing, and marketing of cocoa, coffee, and shea in the country. The functions of COCOBOD include production, research, extension, internal and external marketing, and quality control of cocoa, coffee, and shea. Per that law, the Trade Ministry was the oversight ministry with responsibility for the COCOBOD.

Officials of the Ghana Cocoa Board who moved the amendments to the bill, informed the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee that the intended change in ministerial responsibility under the Law is to properly focus cocoa production as the foremost function of the Board and ensure the Minister responsible for Agriculture has oversight responsibility for the Ghana Cocoa Board and related matters pertaining to the production of cocoa as an agricultural product.

Chairman of the Committee, Ben Abdallah Banda who presented the report of the committee to the plenary, agreed with the proposal of COCOBOD and extolled the importance of the functions of the Board which goes beyond the production of the cash crops extending to the processing and marketing of those crops.

But contributing to the report, First Deputy Minority Chief Whip in Parliament, Ibrahim Ahmed disagreed with the move, insisting it will make no difference in changing the fortunes of the cocoa sector. According to him, the mandate of the Ministry is enormous such that, it won’t be able to focus on developing the cocoa sector.

“We just recently enacted the tree crop development bill in this house, where about 7 different crops were combined and placed under the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. You’re now going to add COCOBOD to it. If the Minister has the magic to do it, why hasn’t he done it? You’ve given him cashew, coffee, mango which he still hasn’t developed. And we’re going to add cocoa to his mandate, how then can he execute it?” the Banda MP quizzed.

That claim was however challenged by the Minister of Monitoring and Evaluation, Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei who argued that the Agric Ministry can be up to the task

“The issue of marketing, we know how it has been doing it all these years, it has never been Trade. Cocoa marketing company which is a subsidiary of COCOBOD has been doing the marketing because they have the expertise. It’s not the issue of the only production and COCOBOD has the capacity to market it which they have done very well over the years. That’s why our cocoa has a premium so putting it all under the Ministry of Agric is the best thing to do,” the Old Tafo MP said.

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