First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu, has stated that a consignment of cocoa beans destined for Japan has been rejected because of high residue levels.

Osei-Owusu indicated that the detection of metals in the consignment could be as a result of chemicals used by ‘galamsey’ operators in extracting gold from cocoa-growing areas.

That is speculative and it would do COCOBOD a world of good if it took samples of the affected beans to be tested in laboratories managed or owned by COCOBOD, or even any reputable laboratory, to see exactly what type of metal was detected and its source.

According to the legislator, a meeting with the Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD revealed that a shipload of cocoa bound for Japan was rejected because of the high level of metals. This is a disturbing piece of news because Japan largely depends on Ghana for cocoa for its chocolate industry.

Japan imports 80.3 percent of its cocoa from Ghana. About half of Ghana’s cocoa is sold to chocolate-makers in Japan, who use it in up to 90 percent of all chocolate-bars the country produces. Therefore, this is a blow to Ghana, a major cocoa producer that has been growing the cash crop for over 200 years.

An earlier report of cocoa-rejection by Japan early this year proved to be unsubstantiated; however, this time around we cannot doubt the authenticity of the information coming from such a high source.

It is also perfectly possible that the metal residue is a result of illegal miners’ operations and could affect cocoa trees, since it is common for cocoa farmers to cede portions of their land to illegal miners for a fee.

Either way, it is a sad reflection of the once-enviable preference for Ghana’s cocoa; apparently, due to its high quality. We are treating this issue with levity, which we believe is not right because one can imagine the revenue lost from a shipload-consignment of cocoa being rejected.

We believe the wrong application of pesticides and agro-chemicals in general could also leave intolerable levels of chemical residue; and these days, countries are particular about the wholesomeness of food products in their bid to protect the health status of nationals.

It is therefore extremely important that we take note of some of these phyto-sanitary and sanitary regulations in exporting countries and make sure we comply. Other than that, we will lose huge sums of money and frustrate the cocoa farmer in the process.

GOIL must partner major oil exploration companies upstream

GOIL Board Chairman Kwamina Bartels has given the strongest indication yet that the state oil player is ready to be a major player in the upstream oil industry.

Mr. Bartels made this disclosure when he addressed the 49th AGM of the Ghana Oil Company Limited (GOIL) in Accra. This development will give far more meaning to the Local Content Law and local content participation.

Even though there is a law in place to ensure Ghanaian participation in the oil and gas industry, this has remained mostly in the downstream sector. Mr. Bartels announced that, currently, GOIL is supporting and rendering services to upstream companies, and that in the near-future GOIL will be a major player in the upstream since its future is bright.

To this end, GOIL is to soon incorporate a company that will be responsible under the Group for handling GOIL’s activities upstream.

With the commercial discovery of oil in the Jubilee Field in 2007, and other discoveries subsequently, Ghanaian companies have had to be content with operating in the downstream sector since most indigenous companies do not possess the financial muscle and expertise to take up major contracts upstream.

This development is indeed welcome news, because it means Ghanaians are gradually going to benefit far more than we are currently doing from our oil resource – and this is what we envisage before we can truly say we are an oil-producing country.

We believe the move is in the right direction, since GOIL – as a partly-state-owned company, is in a strong position to partner any of the world’s major exploration and producing companies. A pragmatic step taken to break the resource curse is enactment of Petroleum (Local Content and Local Participation) Regulations, 2013 (L.I. 2204).

The objective of the legislation is to, among others, promote job creation through the use of local expertise, and to develop local capacities in the petroleum industry. We must strive for its full application to ensure Ghanaians benefit from the oil resource.

We believe the GNPC also can be positioned to play a major role in exploration as well as production, and it is incumbent on government to ensure the right capacities are built to realise this objective which will benefit the state more.