Uncertified cocoa from Ghana are being sold off internationally by both private businessmen and foreign cocoa buyers as certified Rainforest cocoa or Fairtrade cocoa, in what threatens to backfire when international chocolate companies find out the scam, Whatsup News can report.
Apparently, local License Buying Companies (LBCs) who are financially starved of funds are renting out their certification licenses to these unscrupulous businessmen and foreign companies who are virtually buying off all the cocoa beans in the country and passing them all off as duly certified.
The license could be rented out as high as GHC 1 million, Accra-based JoyNews alleged.
Whatsup News gathered that the situation is so dire that local LBCs are dying off, while a serious shortage has hit chocolate producers and other cocoa product manufacturers in Ghana, Whatsup News has gathered.
For instance the operations of Ghana’s biggest chocolate manufacturer, Cocoa Processing Company Limited (CPC), is facing imminent collapse due to the mad scramble by crooked businessmen and foreign companies who, through the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) are starving the local market of raw beans for value addition in Ghana.
Importantly, there are special premiums paid on certified cocoa beans that is supposed to go to poor farmers for them to improve their capacity and livelihoods and continually producing Fair Trade and Rainforest certified cocoa beans.
However, because the LBCs are illegally giving their licenses to shady foreign companies and businessmen who trade in the beans, the premiums that accrue from the uncertified cocoa are pocketed by the businessmen and foreign companies, effectively denying the farmers what is truly due them.
The nefarious transaction between LBCs and crooked businessmen has been corroborated by an undercover investigative documentary done by Accra-based JoyNews.
The JoyNews report uncovered how some LBCs and farmer society groups illegally rent their certification licenses to businessmen to enable them to export regular cocoa as certified ones.
In the documentary dubbed Robbing The Poor, investigative journalist Kwetey Nartey uncovered how easy it was for an LBCs to sublet its certification license to a third party.
The undercover documentary tracked one Hope Wordu, an official of the Business Assurance BV, a certification body who was willing to assist in the process to obtain a certification license from LBCs and CSO in the cocoa sector.
Hope who also works with two certification bodies took a commitment fee of $1000 to start his work.
Mr. Wordu admitted that his actions could attract sanctions from the certification standards body if caught. But, he was ready to subject the industry to the risk because the money being paid him was worth the risk.
Wordu, earns as much as $2,000 in commitment fees and a retainer for project management of $1,000 for 12 months. Additionally, he earns as much as 10% of the total premium received from the supposedly certified procurement.