The management of the Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod) has moved to end the practice of weighing scale tampering with fresh preventive and punitive measures.
Cocoa buyers in Ghana have come under fire after a media exposé revealed systemic cheating of cocoa farmers through the adjustment of analogue weighing scales.
According to the Multimedia Group’s investigative report, Missing Kilos, some cocoa buyers dishonestly adjusted their weighing scales to steal as much as 100 kilogrammes of cocoa beans per farmer.
Now responding to the development in the media at a higher level, the country’s cocoa sector regulator, Ghana Cocoa Board commended the work done by the media, though calling it “belated” as it did not capture measures it has already introduced to address the canker, including electronic scales.
Stricter measures to curb menace
Deputy chief executive of COCOBOD, in charge of operations, Dr Emmanuel Opoku, told the media in Accra that management has in the past couple of years adopted stricter measures to eliminating the canker of cheating poor cocoa farmers.
“COCOBOD has put in place a punitive measure to surcharge any defaulting LBC with the monetary equivalent of the aggregated weight from cocoa sheds across the country that the LBC in question may have short-changed the unsuspecting farmers, once GSA confirms adjustment of such weighing scales”, he said.
In addition, the regulator has upon the advice of the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) last year adopted the introduction of Electronic Scales as a preventive measure to scale tampering.
“The reform or preventive measure involves the introduction of GSA recommended electronic sealable weighing scales which meet a set of tamper-proof standards – so that scale adjustments will be a thing of the past. To provide the needed guidance and ensure the smooth rollout of this reform, the decision has been taken to import the electronic sealable weighing scales, starting this year, and distribute them at a cost to the LBCs”, Dr Opoku reiterated.
The Cocobod management explained, however, its electronic scales will only be available from 2021, thus until then vigilance of all stakeholders was critical.
“Obviously, continuous monitoring and policing will be necessary to ensure the effective implementation of such a measure to eliminate a systemic problem. The work of the media in shining light on the situation and improvement as we progress, as well as the vigilance of our field staff and the cocoa farmers themselves, will together play a crucial role in eliminating this cocoa canker”, the Cocobod deputy chief charged.
Practically impossible to commence in 2020
Dr Emmanuel Opoku stressed, “Our initial target was to start from this October (2020), but then we were not able to get the times correct, everything correct, until we recently had so definitely starting this year is practically impossible. That is why we’ve targeted that next year we will fix it because when it comes all LBCs must take it, we will need (Ghana) Standards Authority to go and make sure everything is intact. That’s why our target has been next season.”