Cash crop farmers are optimistic that the re-introduction of the Akuafo Cheque system will not only help them to avoid manipulation by Licensed Buying Companies but will also ensure guaranteed payment for their commodities.

It appears the Ghana Cocoa, Coffee and Shea nut Farmers Association (GCCSA) is winning the advocacy battle of bringing back the Akuafo Cheque system which was abolished few years ago.

The farmers who are very excited about the successful piloting of the Akuafo system in parts of Eastern, Western, Brong Ahafo and Ashanti Regions, said the system is expected to bring enormous benefits to all cocoa farmers in Ghana since it will help address issues of irregular payments and armed robbery attack on farmers during payment due to large cash transaction.

The re-introduction of the

The re-introduction of the "Akuaffo Cheque" system will improve the fortunes of cocoa farmers: Photocredit: http://www.ghanaianreactoronline.com/news_details.php?newsid=10373

GCCSA Administrative Officer, Mr. Omar Bukari disclosed, that "fortunately, everything is at the final stage now. COCOBOD has already begun experimenting the system, and at the moment, the response had been great and the farmers in the pilot areas are excited about the Akuafo Cheque system."

The GCCSFA is the umbrella body of cocoa, coffee and sheanut farmers in the country with the headquarters of the association located in Accra, the Ghanaian capital. It also has offices at the regional, district and society levels across the country.

The association had a national membership of about two million, but in a re-registration exercise currently underway, the membership hovers around 1.8 million, with many more farmers awaiting registration.

After the scrapping of the Akuafo Cheque system, cocoa, coffee and sheanut farmers have been troubled in many ways, with cheating by Licensed Buying Companies (LBCs) being a major concern. Some of the LBCs allegedly grant loans to the farmers, or in some instances, coerce the farmers to take loans, which then becomes an albatross around the necks of the farmers.

In view of their indebtedness to the LBCs, the farmers are compelled to sell their products to the licensed buying companies, who sometimes use adjusted weighing scales, thereby affecting the income of the farmers significantly.

Mr Bukari said the GCCSFA had undertaken a nationwide exercise to seek the views of the farmers and it emerged that the scrapping of the Akuafo Cheque system was a major concern. He said those concerns informed the decision of the association to apply for the BUSAC Fund for an advocacy programme for the re-introduction of the Akuafo Cheque system.

By Mustapha Sulleyman

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