The Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has intercepted 2.018 kilograms of cocoa beans which were being smuggled to Togo.
The cocoa beans were seized during an operation at Ave-Hevi in the Volta Region.
A situation report by the Customs Division of the GRA at Ave-Havi said at about 11.45 a.m. on February 15, 2020, a team was dispatched to patrol the unapproved routes within the environs of Ave-Havi and Ave-Dakpa.
At about 2.40 p.m. the Customs office had a tip off that a Ford Transit Bus was heading towards Ave-Hevi from a by-pass that leads to Tadzewu upon which the patrol team was alerted.
According to the Customs report, at about 3.40 p.m., the vehicle, with registration number, VR 407 – 17, was intercepted.
“The driver of the vehicle then came out of the vehicle and took to his heels into the bush, leaving the key in the ignition,” it said.
The report said minutes later, a number of residents of Ave-Fiave, a village in the area, massed up and threatened to free the vehicle to cross over into Togo.
“One warning shot was fired to scare them off. The vehicle with its contents, was escorted to the Customs office.
“On examination of the vehicle, it was found that it contained 53 bags of dried cocoa beans with a total weight of 2,018 kg,” the report said.
It added that the cocoa, which was concealed under a head of plantain, was seized and the vehicle detained.
Menace of smuggled cocoa beans
The arrest by the Customs came at the time Ghana is working to address smuggling of cocoa, the country’s major cash crop.
One of the strategies to curb smu is producer price hikes. In the 2019/2020 main crop season, the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) raised the farm gate price of the commodity from GH¢475 to GH¢515 for a 64.5 kg load after it had remained unchanged for three seasons.
Togo has a booming chocolate manufacturing industry which is in high demand for cocoa beans.
Ghana’s cocoa is reputed to be of premium quality, and is therefore, attractive to the chocolate industry.
Source: Graphic Online.