To ensure that all data and information are kept adequately , each farm parcel shall be given a flat file. A copy of all documentation on each parcel shall be kept in the file. A metal filing cabinet shall be provided in future for proper filing of documents. The nature of the Identification Coding Numbers system provides a good basis for tracing any queries for the farm parcel in question. AGL which already has a traceability system for buying cocoa from farmers and selling them to CMC will serve as the Licensed Buying Company for the project. Traceability from the farmer to the port is therefore assured. From time to time, there shall be a simulation of enquiries to test the traceability process in place for further improvement.
The Cocoa Value Chain in Ghana
To ensure traceability in the IMS, Armajaro has been designated as the buying post. Traceability is therefore to the specific society level where a coding system has been adopted to identify each society. The same coding system is used in all documentation. This will be the situation until such time that the cocoa authorities permit the IMS to also use the farmer code on the bags. The traceability system used by the ICS is described in detail below.
- The farmer grows and harvests the cocoa when it is ripe. Ripe fruits are for most varieties a deep yellow colour. They are harvested by farmers with specific cocoa knives. The harvested pods are collected together, broken open with a wooden baton and the wet cocoa beans are removed by hand.
- In the post-harvest treatment wet cocoa beans are fermented for seven days at the farm, a process that is vital for developing the flavour characteristics of cocoa.
- Fully-fermented cocoa beans are then sun dried on raised bamboo mats at the homestead ready for sale.
- A farmer sells his dried beans to a society in jute sacks.
- A society is normally located in a community in a cocoa growing area and can purchase cocoa beans from many farmers (average of about 50).
- Each society is headed by a Purchasing Clerk (PC), who is also a farmer in the group.
- Farmers bring their cocoa beans to the society for sale. The society has a set of scales for weighing cocoa beans. (A bag of cocoa is 63.5kg gross/ 62.5kg net. A metric tonne is 16 bags.)
- Farmers are paid a fixed price for their cocoa beans. The price is set annually by the Producer Price Review Committee of the Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod), the cocoa industry regulator.
- Sales of cocoa beans by each farmer to a society are recorded in the farmer’s passbook, which all farmers selling cocoa must hold.
- The PC records all cocoa bean purchases in the society daily schedule. This means that for each consignment of beans that are delivered to the district depot, the PC has an account of farmers who contributed to the consignment.
- It is at the society that cocoa beans are weighed.
- Cocoa beans can be traced to the society by the markings (the drop mark) on the cocoa jute sack (see below).
- Licensed buying companies (LBCs) are authorised by Cocobod to buy cocoa from societies.
- The Quality Control Company Ltd (QCC) of Cocobod is responsible for inspecting and issuing certificates of registration for premises to be used as depots.
- LBCs locate buying operations in QCC demarcated produce districts. QCC does not allow cocoa beans from one district to be transferred to another district. This aids quality control and traceability.
- The district operation arranges transport to carry cocoa from the society shed to the district depot on a weekly basis. This movement is called primary evacuation and is supported by a primary evacuation waybill.
- On arrival at the district depot the quality and moisture content of the cocoa are checked (often in the presence of the farmer) by the District Manager.
- Bagged cocoa is stored in a district depot until there are sufficient bags to make up a truck load (normally 600 bags) for evacuation to port (secondary evacuation).
- Before cocoa beans can undergo secondary evacuation from the district depot they must undergo a quality test by QCC.
- Bags of cocoa are arranged on a society-by-society basis on pallets in stacks of 15 with sufficient space between stacks to aid complete checking and sampling.
- For the quality test every bag in a consignment is inspected and sampled. Firstly, all bags are visually inspected to ensure that they are new, clean and properly sown. Secondly, the contents of each bag are tested for moisture content with a probe (maximum is 7.0%). Thirdly, a sampling horn is used to take a sample of beans from every bag. QCC quality testers carry out two checks on sub-samples of the all-bags sample: a bean count and a cut test.
- In the bean count the number of beans per 100 grams weighed is counted. This indicates the average size of cocoa beans. A code is marked on each bag in a batch to indicate bean size. The code changes at the start of each light crop period.
- A consignment of cocoa beans is normally sent to one of the three take-over points in Ghana (Takoradi port, Tema port and Kaase inland port). Traceable cocoa is only sent to Takoradi and Tema ports.
- Each consignment must be accompanied by a secondary evacuation waybill in quadruplicate. For traceable cocoa beans the secondary evacuation waybill is marked “traceable cocoa”.
- In addition traceable cocoa is accompanied by a society-by-society list called a society traceable detail report.
- The trucks used for secondary evacuation are dedicated to the transport of cocoa and cannot be used for any other purpose.
- At the take-over point all cocoa arrivals are check-sampled by QCC port staff (moisture, bean count, cut test, bag weight, bag quality).
- Cocoa of acceptable quality is issued with a QCC purity certificate. This allows the cocoa to be taken over into port warehouses by Cocobod’s marketing and export arm, the Cocoa Marketing Company Ghana Ltd (CMC). A certificate of take-over is issued by CMC, which in turn allows the LBC to invoice CMC for the cocoa beans.
- Traceable cocoa is stored in a separate CMC warehouse space from other cocoa. CMC officials at traceable warehouses keep a plan of where each consignment is stored.
- Cocoa is stacked in a traceable warehouse on a per client basis, with each client having a distinct and segregated stack.
- A check-sample is conducted by QCC for all consignments prior to export shipment.
- Cocoa is stuffed into containers (normally 200 bags per container = 200 x 63.5kg = 12.70 metric tonnes).
- When the consignment of stuffed containers is ready for shipment, a bill of lading is produced according to the export requirements of the origin country and the import requirements of the destination country.
- For each bill of lading a traceability certificate is produced that indicates in detail the society, district and secondary evacuation waybill of all the cocoa in the consignment.