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Smugglers feed on Ghana's cocoa woes

Thursday, August 21, 2014 - 02:09

Farmers in the world's largest cocoa grower - Ivory Coast - take advantage of a weakened Ghanian currency, as smugglers continue to traffic thousands of tonnes of Ghanaian cocoa beans into Ivory Coast. Joel Flynn reports

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For these Ghanian farmers, cocoa isn't just about making a living. Ghana's the world's second-largest cocoa grower, behind neighbouring Ivory Coast. Between them producing 60% of the global supply of the main ingredient in chocolate. Illicit cocoa shipments once came to Ghana from Ivory Coast - although the Ghanian beans were considered superior. Ivory Coast has partially closed the quality gap in the past two years. But a collapse in the Ghanian currency, the cedi, has driven a reversal of fortunes between the two countries. Alfred Allotey is a Cocoa Depot Manager in Ghana. SOUNDBITE: Cocoa Depot Manager, Alfred Allotey, saying (English): "The farmers are compelled to give most of their produce to the buyers from Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) so they can get enough money for their children; it is not that they are willing. It is the situation that is compelling them to do so." Ghanian farmers get a fixed price each season for their cocoa from the country's marketing board. But now they can get much more for their crop by smuggling it into Ivory Coast. The cedi's lost 45% of its value against the dollar since January - reducing Ghana's capacity to buy fertilisers or help out farmers. And that's a worry for some like James. SOUNDBITE: Ghanaian Farmer, James, saying (English): "We use the cocoa to pay our men, to build our hospitals and all kinds of roads. If we don't stop them, our country is going to go down." Whereas in Ivory Coast, the sector is recovering well after a decade of conflict and political turmoil - and the government's reforming the industry. Price is all that matters to some - like member of Ivorian co-operative Adoni Nkanza. SOUNDBITE: Co-Operative Member, Adoni Nkanza, saying (French): "It's not the co-operatives who are helping the smugglers, who pay for their own fuel in order to sell their cocoa, but I for one will buy it from them. That's the way it is." Chocolate consumption is booming in new markets like Asia. Ghana's cocoa board has ambitious plans to double production and overtake Ivory Coast. But that's quite a challenge while so much crop is lost to smuggling.

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Smugglers feed on Ghana's cocoa woes

Thursday, August 21, 2014 - 02:09