Armajaro Targets 85,000 Tonnes of Cocoa Next Season

The third-largest cocoa buyer in the country, Armajaro Ghana Limited, plans to purchase 85,000 metric tonnes of cocoa beans in the upcoming 2011/12 crop season, up from an estimated 75,000 metric tonnes for the 2010/11 season. “We have put a lot of measures in place, including training our staff in the districts to apply funds well to achieve the target set,” Nelson Kpodo-Tay, Director of Operations, told Business and Financial Times in an interview. “We’re also in the process of expanding our storage facilities in the districts to strengthen our position,” he added. Kpodo-Tay explained that Armajaro has set up a dedicated team specialising in Traceability and Sustainability (T&S) across its commodity-chain. Traceability has to do with the trace the origin of cocoa beans to ensure that they are legitimately sourced. “We believe that traceability is key to the long-term success of any sustainability initiative, and therefore we have invested in software systems and training to provide traceability for the projects we are involved with,” he said. He added that in 2007 Armajaro successfully implemented a project to source traceable cocoa in Ghana. So far, Armajaro, through its Cocoa Traceable Foundation, has invested over US$2million to improve water, sanitation and education in 52 communities where it operates. The foundation, which seeks to improve the lot of local communities, has drilled over 150 boreholes to provide safe drinking water for beneficiary communities. Kpodo-Tay noted that the company will continue to help farmers to spray their farms against cocoa diseases and pests which account for low productivity, whereas tree seedlings are being planted on cocoa farms to help reverse the trend of deforestation. “Our extensive presence in the key production origins enables us to help empower farmers by investing in and supporting training programmes and initiatives that assist growers to improve their profitability and working conditions.” Touching on beans-smuggling, Kpodo-Tay said Armajaro has set up a monitoring system in the district across the western corridors to ensure that it does not involve beans-smuggling in its operations. “We’ve reviewed rules on employee-conduct to discourage workers from engaging in cocoa smuggling,” he said. Last year, Armajaro and two other companies were banned from buying cocoa following their implication in smuggling activity from Ghana into Ivory Coast. The ban, which was lifted the same year, raised eyebrows from the opposition New Patriotic Part (NPP). The party believed that the Vice President, John Mahama, had directed the Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod) to lift the ban. At the time, UK newspapers questioned why Britain's International Development Secretary intervened through Ghana's Vice President to have the ban lifted. But the office of the Vice President categorically stated that he only directed the UK minister to have the company petition Cocobod. Armajaro Ghana trades with over 75,000 cocoa farmers’ around the western corridor and employs about 1,500 people, delivering livelihoods to over 100,000 families in the rural areas.