About 750 organized cocoa farmers in the Eastern Region have complained that some cocoa Licensed Buying Companies (LBC) were not paying them their bonuses.
The cocoa farmers made the report to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) at Akim Oda, in the Birim Central Municipality, shortly after meeting to discuss among other matters, their welfare and non-payment of bonuses due them.
Before the opening of the 2014/15 cocoa season in October, Government increased the producer price of cocoa from GH¢3,392.00 per tonne to GH¢5,520.00 Ghana Cedis. This translates into an increase of GH¢2,128 per tonne or 62.74 per cent.
Mr. Debrah Amanor, a prominent Chief Cocoa Farmer for Suhum Municipality, told the GNA that Purchasing Clerks (P/Cs) from the LBCS has resorted underpaying the producer price, and denying them of their bonuses on their produce sent to the societies (sheds) to sell.
According to Mr. Amanor, a former Junior High School head teacher, a bag of 64 kilogrammes of cocoa beans should sell at GH¢345, while the government paid a bonus of five Ghana Cedis per bag to the farmer at the time of the sale of their produce.
“COCOBOD directs that the producer price of a bag of beans, plus the bonus must be paid up front,” he explained.
The Chief Cocoa Farmer explained: “In all, we are expected to be paid GH¢350.00 (bonus inclusive) on each bag of 64 kg but this is not the case”.
He said the bonus was unpaid because the P/CS paid the farmer GH¢345.00 for the 64 kg.
More so, in cases where bonuses were paid, they were not paid on volume short of the 64kg.
However, he explained, the bonus of five Ghana Cedis per bag, should be calculated to the least percentage to cover one kg of cocoa.
Mr. Amanor stated that the practice of not paying the bonus was illegal and unacceptable, stressing, “It seriously undermines the government’s efforts at seeking the welfare of cocoa farmers …”.
He, therefore, appealed to COCOBOD to help enforce payments of their bonuses.
Meanwhile, investigations by the GNA revealed that some of the P/Cs at Akim Asene, Manso, Akroso, Anyinam, Akrofufu, Nkawkaw and Kwahu Praso were not paying the bonuses.
At Kwahu Praso, a P/C, Mr. E.K. Ofori and one Mr. Yaw, a labourer, at the Akuafo Adamfo Society, could not explain the mode of payment of the bonus.
They said they only paid bonus on a full bag of load.