The price of cocoa in the international market has in recent times recorded a steady rise. Figures from International Cocoa Organization Market Report indicate that the global cocoa market has been experiencing increases in prices since April 2023 with a tonne of cocoa beans which was US$2,630 in London and US$2,868 in New York now going for US$ 2,773 and US$ 3,177 in May respectively. This surge in prices have been attributed to a combination of factors such as increased global cocoa demand and poor weather conditions which have led to lower production levels in west Africa especially in Ivory Coast.
Despite these recent developments, farmgate prices in Ghana remain unchanged. Smallholder farmers continue to struggle to purchase farm inputs like fertilizer and pesticides due to rising prices. The last time the government increased farmgate prices was in October, 2022 where the farmgate price was increased by 21 percent from GH₵660 to GH₵800 per 64kg bag of cocoa. Notwithstanding the increase, farmers have continually decried the inadequacy of the current price to cover their farming and livelihood expenses.
At an event in Damang (a district in the Prestea-Huni-Valley Municipality) where Gold Fields Ghana Foundation distributed free fertilizers and pesticides to farmers as part of their Cocoa Farmers Support Programme, the Head of Public Affairs at COCOBOD, Stephen Fiifi Boafo hinted a likely increase in the farmgate price of cocoa in October. Although he did not mention the likely percentage increase, Stephen Boafo admitted that the low price of cocoa coupled with illegal gold mining activities (galamsey) are threats to the cocoa industry.
He further reiterated efforts by COCOBOD’s in partnership with the National Pension and Regulatory Authority to implement the Cocoa Farmers Pension Scheme. “The introduction of the Cocoa Farmers Pension Scheme is meant to secure your future and provide you with a decent means of livelihood when you retire. As with other pension schemes, your monthly earnings will depend on your contributions which means that if you sell off your cocoa farms for mining activities, you are denying yourself and future generations the opportunity to earn decent livelihoods” he noted.
At the same event cocoa farmers raised a spirited demand for better prices due to the high cost of living, input price hikes and government’s withdrawal of free cocoa farm inputs. According to them, if the government does not give an immediate response to their plea, they will continually resort to selling their cocoa farms for illegal gold mining activities. Speaking to Citi news, farmers in the Prestea-Huni-Valley Municipality of the Western Region indicated their reliance on donations from Gold Fields Ghana for their farm inputs.
According to reports by COCOBOD, about 19,000 hectares of vibrant cocoa farms have been destroyed by illegal gold mining activities, which is feared to worsen as cocoa farmers are threatening to sell out farmlands due to low farmgate prices.