The 2018/2019 edition of the Annual Cocoa Freight Negotiation Conference opened in Ghana to enable stakeholders to agree on freight rates and conditions for the shipment of cocoa for the coming season.
It is the first time in over two decades that the conference, which marks the beginning of formal engagements between the Cocoa Marketing Company Ltd. (CMC), the Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) aw well as carriers and shipping lines, is being held in Ghana.
It would determine freight charges for the carriage of Ghana’s cocoa beans and other cocoa products from Ghana to destinations in Europe, the Americas, Asia, among others.
The three-day conference being hosted by the CMC and the GSA, in collaboration with participating Shipping Lines/Agents and supporting stakeholders, is on the theme: ‘Re-positioning Shipping in the Cocoa Supply Chain to Advance Ghana’s Development Agenda. ”
Speaking at the opening session, Mr Joe Forson, the Managing Director of the CMC, said the historic conference in Ghana was borne out of the objective “to promote local participation aligned with our national interest of a Ghana beyond Aid.”
He said in line with local participation objectives, about 20 per cent of total cocoa exports was delivered to local companies for production.
Mr Forson said the 2017/18 crop season had been a challenging and interesting one on the International cocoa market after more than 40 per cent drop in world market prices in 2016.
He said the conference would review the 2017/18 Crop Season and build on the strengths to achieve set objectives.
“The period also saw the start of direct shipment from Kumasi. A total of 61,000mt was shipped out of Kumasi directly into the port of Tema. This measure was very cost effective since it afforded us the avoidance of double handling,” he said.
The way forward
On the way forward for the country’s cocoa sector, he assured participants that COCOBOD had put in place various Productivity Enhancement Programmes, ranging from hand pollination, irrigation, rehabilitation of infested farms and improvement in warehousing capacity to grow the crop to 1million and above.
Besides, Ghana’s is engaged in bilateral talks with Ivory Coast to collaborate on various fronts ranging from production and research, marketing and processing.
Ms. Benonita Bismarck, Chief Executive Officer of the GSA, on her part explained to shippers and agents present that the GSA was collaborating with shipping Lines to engender openness and transparency in the trade, for the benefit of shippers.
Deputy Chief Executive – Operations at Cocobod, Nana Oduro Owusu, said the regulator was doing all it could to boost production, not through the expansion of cocoa farms but the implementation of various measures, including good agronomic practices to increase yield.
The conference brought together key players and other stakeholders in the maritime and cocoa industry to brainstorm and provide a roadmap for repositioning shipping to benefit local actors along the cocoa value chain and ultimately the Ghanaian economy.