The Chief Executive of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahene Aidoo, said the COVID-19 pandemic has also stalled the current syndication process for loan facilities for the 2020/2021 crop season.

Mr Boahene Aidoo told Accra-based Joy FM that the fall in cocoa prices has so far cost the country $1 billion.

“The buyers have closed their windows so we are not buying. The price of Cocoa has tumbled. Immediately it brings to Ghana a deficit of almost $1 billion. If this thing should continue, paying our farmers will be difficult.”

“We arranged everything until August so we signed in September. This time around, most banks out there have closed. It’s really affecting the industry and you know; cocoa is the backbone of the economy and once cocoa is affected, it means that the entire economy is going to suffer.”

COCOBOD was to use the loan facility to increase cocoa yields per hectare and increase Ghana’s overall production.

Ghana’s COCOBOD use of the loan facility includes financial interventions to increase cocoa plant fertility, improving irrigation systems, rehabilitating aged and disease-infected farms.

The fund is expected to also help increase the warehouse capacity and provide support to local cocoa-processing companies.

Ghana’s cocoa sector employs about 800,000 and produces crops worth about $2 billion in foreign exchange annually.

COCOBOD fears the dire effects of the Coronavirus on the future of smallholder cocoa farmers.