An attempt by Kuapa Kokoo Cooperative Cocoa Farmers & Marketing Union Limited (KKFU) to embark on a face-saving PR gimmick following the airing of the ‘Missing Kilos’ exposé by Accra-based Joy News, has backfired, with COCOBOD exposing their lies.
Kuapa Kokoo has denied any wrongdoing, insisting that they have never cheated farmers by adjusting their weighing scales.
In a statement cited on modernghana.com trying to discredit the New Crusading Guide and Today newspaper story over the ‘Missing Kilos’ which has sparked an uproar in Kuapa Kokoo over GH₵5,000,000.00 stolen cash, has gotten the Executive secretary of the farmer-based Union, Mr. Nelson Adubofour, badly exposed.
Mr. Adubofour had debunked claims that cocoa farmers have been cheated for a long time, reasons for an uproar with some farmers of the cooperative union.
He averred that the publication carried by the New Crusading Guide and Today newspaper on Friday which found its source from the airing of Joy News’ Missing kilos’, is never true.
He contended that the stolen cash of about GH₵5,000,000 by one Eric Fiifi Cudjoe, who is the husband of the President of Kuapa Kokoo Cooperative Farmers Cocoa & Marketing Union, Madam Fatima Ali, is also false. The stolen money (about GH₵5,000,000.00) is already in the public domain.
Eric Fiifi Cudjoe was the Union’s District Depot Manager at Sefwi Akontombra in the Western Region.
According to Kuapa Kokoo, they are a reputable cocoa producer co-operative which has a proven track record since its establishment in 1993 and has never cheated on it, gallant cocoa farmers.
The management insists that the company sees this diabolic agenda being pursued by some detractors who want to tarnish the good image of Kuapa Kokoo.
“The New Crusading Guide newspaper as reputable and a respected press-out after intercepting this concocted information from who so ever brought it to them should have cross-checked the information properly to get the side of the company (Kuapa Kokoo) before coming out with such publication”, Mr. Nelson Adubofour noted.
He adds that as a reputable cocoa-producing Organisation they are focused on assisting their over 100,000 cocoa farmers throughout the country to support them but not to cheat them in any way.
“The company is also seriously mobilizing funds for 2020-2021 cocoa season and preparing projects for farmers livelihood but not interested in individuals with selfish parochial interest”, he added.
The leadership of the organization wishes to reiterate that their core values which are encapsulated in the Co-operative principles would not be flagged to support anyone’s interest.
Mr. Nelson Adubofour continued, “The organization is focused on delivering sustainable programs geared towards providing a medium for the social, economic and political empowerment of cocoa farmers and also to enhance the participation of women in the decision-making process at all levels of operations in the organization. And finally encourage environmentally sustainable cocoa production processes. This is the mandate of Kuapa Kokoo”.
However, our source at the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) provides evidence that Kuapa Kokoo was sanctioned alongside the other Licensed Buying Companies. Kuapa Kokoo was made to pay over GH₵12,000.00 in 2019 with the other LBCs paying according to the number of scales they have.
Inside sources say COCOBOD in one of its preliminary inspection tour of the LBC sheds in 2018 uncovered how the LBCs were using the weighing scales to steal from the farmers.
They then commissioned the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) to perform a thorough inspection of all weighing scales used at the LBC sheds to gather empirical evidence on the extent of the problem of scale adjustments.
Based on the report from the GSA, which found that the practice was systemic, management settled on two solutions: a preventive reform measure and a punitive measure.
Under the preventive measure, COCOBOD will import the GSA recommended electronic sealable weighing scales which meet a set of tamper-proof standards to give at a cost to the LBCs. This is to ensure that the measure is rolled out quickly and that there is a common standard for all. LBCs will be required to use the new scales only.
A letter from COCOBOD addressed to all the LBCs to that effect dated November 25, 2019, a copy of which is in our possession stated in part that “The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) intends to facilitate the introduction and use of only the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) approved weighing scales for the cocoa purchasing operations. You may recall that the Ghana Standards Authority per a letter GSA/MED/LMD/114.4 gave an indication on the permissible weighing scale for the cocoa purchasing operations. In their communication, the Ghana Standards Authority gave a deadline of June 2020 for the industry to implement its decision and recommendations on weighing scale. To ensure that we work to meet this deadline, COCOBOD requests all LBCs to furnish us with the number of societies each company operates for the internal marketing operations”.
The punitive measure was to surcharge the LBCs 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.
Following the findings of the GSA, all the LBCs including Kuapa Kokoo, were surcharged.
The denial by Mr. Adubofour and the subsequent exposé of his lies by COCOBOD has left some of the farmers wondering who the Executive Secretary of the Union is protecting.
“I have been following the news in the media and the denial by Mr. Adubofour. Clearly, COCOBOD has exposed them and one can see a clear cover up agenda by the Union to protect the President against helping to retrieve our GH₵5,000,000 from the Sefwi Akontombra Depot Manager”, Akwasi Ntow (not his real name), a farmer in Ankasa in the Western Region quizzed.
The secretly filmed documentary which was aired on August 3 and 4, 2020, showed how some licensed cocoa buyers have been illegally adjusting their weighing scales to steal 5 to 11 kilos of cocoa on each bag of cocoa weighed.
The standard weigh of cocoa per bag is 64 kilos. However, some licensed cocoa buyers through their own doings, have illegally adjusted their weighing scales for each bag of cocoa to now weigh 69 to 75 kilos.
The difference, according to the Chairman of the Jomoro Cocoa Farmers Association, represent 30% loss of profit per each bag of cocoa weighed.
“We are working for no profit. All our profits go away. We are discouraged because we don’t even know who to talk to. COCOBOD too is not helping us”, he noted.
Mr. Stephen Nyarko, a cocoa farmer commenting on the issue said the adjustment of the weighing scale is worrying and therefore wants the Ghana Standards Authority to move in and check all the weighing scales the licensed cocoa buyers are using.
“We want accurate and standard scales”, he stressed.
The airing of the documentary has irked some cocoa farmers who are members of the Kuapa Kokoo Cooperative Cocoa Farmers & Marketing Union, with many questioning whether they still have a good future in the leadership style of Madam Fatima Ali after demonstrating her ineptitude in championing their course.
They had complained that not only are they faced with cheating and or stealing of their cocoa beans by agents of the LBCs but also mismanagement and corrupt practices including the blatant stealing of the Union’s hard earned money which have gone unchecked, thereby making them poorer.
The farmers are furious that their Union President whom they had placed high hopes in her has persistently disappointed them by focusing too much on her own personal gains and alleged malfeasance with her husband while enjoying protection from the Managing Director of Kuapa Kokoo Limited, Samuel Adimado.
The farmers who pleaded anonymity for fear of being victimized contend that since March 15, 2018 when Madam Fatima Ali’s husband, Eric Fiifi Cudjoe was arrested by the Ejisu Police and subsequently arraigned before court on the charge of fraudulent breach of trust after stealing about GH₵5,000,000.00 belonging to the farmers, the Union President has done little to retrieve the money while the MD of Kuapa Kokoo Limited, who is the complainant in the said case, is still protecting them. Ironically, the story was first published by the same modernghana.com.
All efforts to get the leadership of Kuapa Kokoo including Madam Fatima Ali and Mr. Samuel Adimado, to comment on the issue proved futile.