COCOBOD secures $1.8 billion for cocoa purchases

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The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has secured a $1.8 billion syndicated loan from a consortium of banks to enable it purchase cocoa beans for the 2016/2017 crop season, which begins in October.

The loan is equal to the same amount secured last year and it would be used to purchase between 850,000 and 900,000 tonnes of beans.

COCOBOD said the loan was oversubscribed by $640 million and there was the opportunity to pick up an additional $200 million when the need arose.

The deal was signed, on Wednesday, September 21, 2016 in Frankfurt, Germany by Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni, the Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD and witnessed by Mr Ato Forson, a Deputy Minister of Finance and Ms Akua Sena Dansua, Ghana’s Ambassador to Germany.

The lead arrangers are Deutsche Bank, Natixis , Cooperative Rabobank, Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi, Nedbank, Societe Generale , Standard Chartered Bank, Ghana International Bank and DZ Bank.

Mr Opuni said the loan facility comes with an all-inclusive rate of 1.468 per cent with a four-month moratorium and seven months repayment period, which starts in February 2017 and will be completed in August 2017.

He said the cocoa industry was confronted with some challenges, including the decline in soil fertility, ageing cocoa farmers, overaged cocoa farms, climate change and cocoa swollen shoot virus.

Mr Opuni said the Government had supported cocoa farmers to improve upon the soil fertility of their cocoa farms through the free fertiliser distribution programme, fungicides and insecticides to cocoa farmers for spraying their farms against pest and diseases.

He said the Government had distributed 50 million seedlings to cocoa farmers and increase it to 60 million seedlings in 2016 to support farmers to rehabilitate overaged cocoa farms, diseased farms and those starting new farms.

Mr Opuni explained that all these interventions were expected to add another 500,000 metric tonnes to 750,000 tonnes of cocoa after the next 10 years to the current yield.

He said the inflows from the loan would bring in the needed dollars to the economy and help stabilise the value of the cedi.

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