REGIONAL Managers of Olam Ghana Limited, a leading cocoa Licensed Buying Company (LBC), have held their annual conference in Kumasi with a call on cocoa buying companies to produce quality cocoa beans for the 2010/2011 main season to enable the country to maintain its position as the producer and supplier of best grade cocoa.
The Senior Regional Manager of the Quality Control Company (QCC) in the Ashanti Region, Mr S.E. Bisiw, who made the call, warned that stiff sanctions would be applied against LBCs which produce unwholesome cocoa beans in the main cocoa season.
The sanctions, which could lead to withdrawal of licenses, were to ensure that LBCs operated within the guidelines set for the production of quality beans.
According to Mr Bisiw, demands by buyers of Ghana’s cocoa enjoined players of the industry, especially LBCs to ensure that the country continued to maintain her image on the international market as the producer and supplier of quality grade cocoa.
The regional manager expressed concern about increased proportions of under-fermented, and black and decayed beans (abinkyi) found in prepared cocoa presented for grading and sealing by LBCs in recent times.
He said that was why the QCC was implementing the rigid measures to enforce operational procedures for the main crop season in order to improve upon the quality of Ghana’s cocoa.
Mr Bisiw said the last few seasons had recorded challenges in the area of quality and there was the need to reverse the negative situation.
He attributed the situation to deliberate acts by some unscrupulous field operatives for their selfish gains at the expense of the hard won reputation of Ghana’s premium cocoa.
Mr Bisiw stated that Ghana’s cocoa had over the years fetched premium price on the international market, and nothing should be done to reverse it.
He emphasised that if the quality of cocoa beans were poor, their products suffered and the cocoa industry as a whole loses.
“There is no way Ghana could sell cocoa, which is low grade and get away with it,” the QCC regional manager stressed.
He therefore appealed to all stakeholders in the cocoa industry to adopt best practices to keep the name of the country high on the international market.
Mr Bisiw stated that consumer sophistication and expectation kept increasing all over the world, adding “This informed QCC’s determination to enforce the 7.5 per cent acceptable limit of moisture content in cocoa beans.”
In a speech read on his behalf, the Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr Kofi Opoku-Manu, said the government would continue to promote the cocoa industry in spite of the discovery of oil in commercial quantities.
He said the cocoa industry occupied an important place in national development so nothing would be done to disrupt its growth.
The Regional Minister said the recent increase in the producer price of cocoa and the payment of bonuses to farmers were all part of measures to motivate farmers to increase production.
“The cocoa farmer, I can assure you, would be better off under this government following interventions adopted,” he said.
The Country Head of Olam Ghana Limited, Mr Amit Agrawal, gave the assurance that the company would continue to adopt measures that would advance the strides of the cocoa industry.
He also stated that the company was honouring its social responsibilities as a way of complementing government’s efforts at developing the cocoa growing communities.