The Ghana COCOBOD says it is importing electronic weighing scales for Cocoa License Buying companies to prevent the tampering of machines by Licensed Buying Companies to cheat cocoa farmers.
The decision was arrived at after COCOBOD in collaboration with the Ghana Standards Authority followed up on a Joy News report on how some Licensed Buying Companies adjusted their scales to cheat cocoa farmers.
Speaking at a press conference, the Deputy Chief Executive in Charge of Operations at COCOBOD, Dr. Emmanuel Opoku, said two strategic moves have been adopted by the regulator of the Cocoa sector to halt the practice where farmers are shortchanged.
“The reform or preventive measure involves the introduction of Ghana Standards Authorithy 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 roll out 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,” he said.
Dr. Opoku added that COCOBOD is considering further punitive actions in addition to sanctions against the Licensed Buying Companies engaged in the cheating.
“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,” he added.
He further noted that 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. Detected issues can then be promptly addressed,” he added.