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COCOBOD fires two bribe-taking officials

Two officials collecting data of cocoa farmers as part of the Ghana Cocoa Board’s (COCOBOD) ‘Cocoa Management System (CMS) project’, have been fired after being found guilty of collecting bribes.

As part of the CMS policy, some officials have been hired to collect data of all cocoa farmers in the country for free, to enable COCOBOD’s planning and management of cocoa farmers.

However, two officials that were engaged to collect the data of cocoa farmers in the Western South Zone in the ongoing programme, allegedly took bribes from some ‘naive’ farmers before taking their data and registering them.

The affected farmers later got to know about the fact that the data collection was being done free of charge and subsequently reported the two ‘corrupt’ officials to the COCOBOD, who investigated the case, found the two accused persons culpable, and sacked them.

Dr. Emmanuel Opoku, the Deputy CEO of COCOBOD, who shared the information with some selected journalists in Kumasi, sternly cautioned that the registration of cocoa farmers into the CMS policy is for free and nobody should take advantage and dupe the poor farmers.

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He appealed to cocoa farmers to quickly report any official that would demand money from them before taking their data to the COCOBOD for an action to be taken, saying “the exercise is free of charge.”

Dr. Opoku, who was accompanied by other top dignitaries from the COCOBOD to Kumasi, said all expenses of the officials engaged to take the data of the cocoa farmers have been paid in full by his outfit.

“Farmers are not supposed to pay any money or even cook food for the officials that would be visiting them in their localities to take their data,” he said.

Dr. Opoku appealed to journalists to assist in sensitising the cocoa farmers so that nobody would take advantage of them, especially as the data collection exercise for the CMS had just kick-started in the Ashanti Region.

He said the CMS programme, whose piloting exercise was completed in 2019, has proven to have immense benefits for cocoa farmers when implemented fully across the country, so he called for support from all and sundry.

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According to him, as part of the CMS, data of cocoa farmers such as their bank and other financial details, would be put into a single database, therefore they would be paid via technology directly into their accounts to avert the temptation of carrying cash around.

Also, he said CMS would lead to cocoa farmers being given special identification cards with unique numbers to enable them to sell their products, explaining that this would go a long way to help prevent the stealing of cocoa beans.

Still on some of the benefits of the CMS, Dr. Opoku said child labour in farms would cease and the farming of cocoa in reserved areas and protected forests would be abolished for good.

According to him, the CMS would also make it possible for the COCOBOD to know the exact location of every cocoa farm in the country, the farmer, his/her family members and residential address for easy approach.

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Dr. Opoku said the collection of data of cocoa farmers in the Ashanti Region was underway and said hopefully, the exercise would be completed in one month’s time, adding that COCOBOD was counting on the media to make the CMS successful.

—Daily Guide