Freight charges for ferrying Ghana’s cocoa to the international market for the next season have been increased by five per cent.
The adjustment, which takes effect from October 1, this year, was agreed on between the Cocoa Marketing Company (CMC) and the Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) after lengthy negotiations with the 26 shipping lines that ferry the country’s cocoa exports.
The agreement was reached at the Cocoa Freight Negotiation Conference in Accra last Friday.
Consequently, the rate for shipment per tonne to the United Kingdom (UK) has gone up from £30 to £31.50, while that to the Northern Continent is up from €49 to €51.45, with that to Estonia jumping from €56 to €57.75.
Shipments to Mediterranean Europe, which includes Albania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Montenegro, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia and Southern France, have increased from €55 to €58.80, with shipments to the Far East rising from $89/94 to $94.19/99.48, while those to Brazil have gone up from $103 to $109.
The bunker adjustment factor (BAF) — an additional charge levied on the shippers to compensate for fluctuations in the price of the ship’s fuel — has also been increased by one per cent; that is, from 27 to 28 per cent, for all destinations, except to the Far East and Brazil, which have already been added to the freight rate.
The adjustment has become necessary as a result of recent events in the global shipping market, leading to increases in charter rates, container shortage and rising bunker prices.
Competitive freight rate
Announcing the new charges at the end of the 2021/22 Freight Negotiation, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the GSA, Ms. Benonita Bismarck, observed that the rate increment was also in consideration of the need to keep a competitive freight rate for Ghana’s cocoa, especially in the light of competition from neighbouring countries.
“Based on the foregoing, the new freight rates for the shipment of cocoa beans from Ghana for the 2021/22 cocoa season have been agreed,” she said.
Ms. Bismarck, in her opening remarks, acknowledged the cooperation and support of the shipping lines that had kept faith with Ghana in promoting trade and serving as trusted conduits between the CMC and buyers.
She said earlier in the year, under the auspices of the Ministry of Transport, the GSA successfully engaged a number of shipping agents in the negotiation of their local charges.
“Many of the shipping agents, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and accompanying restrictions, have introduced highly commendable digital/online platforms in their operations to assist in documentation release processes, payment processes, submission of receipts,” Ms. Bismarck said.
Highest production levels
The Managing Director (MD) of the CMC, Mr. Vincent Okyere Akomeah, said 2020/21 had been a good year because, in spite of the devastating effects of the pandemic, Ghana recorded the highest cocoa production levels ever.
As of the last count, he said, over one million tonnes had been declared purchased.
Mr. Akomeah said the success was chalked up on the back of various productivity enhancement programmes, ranging from mass pruning, hand pollination, irrigation, rehabilitation of cocoa swollen shoot virus (CSSV) disease-affected farms and enhanced fertiliser application adopted and implemented by the Ghana Cocoa Board.
He said direct shipment from Kumasi had progressed positively from 30,000 tonnes to over 64,000, a percentage increase of over 100.
He said that was an indication that the collective objective of sustaining Kumasi shipments was moving in the right direction.
“On operational challenges, we continue to observe an increase in the rejection of containers provided by various shipping lines. We want to reiterate the fact that we require only food grade containers in very good condition for stuffing of cocoa,” he said.