The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) is on track to meet the 50 per cent local processing target of cocoa beans produced in the country, the Chief Executive Officer, Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, has said.
He said the country was currently processing about 40 per cent of cocoa beans locally and was, therefore, confident of meeting the 50 per cent target soon.
At the launch of the National Chocolate Week, he said the chocolate week celebrations was part of a bigger drive by the board to promote local processing of cocoa to boost cocoa consumption among Ghanaians.
He said COCOBOD was determined to strengthen its incentive packages to help local processors and artisanal chocolate makers expand their businesses.
“The incentives will ensure that the processors are able to access more beans and produce more chocolates and other cocoa products for the consuming public,” he said.
The government in 2017 announced an ambitious plan to increase cocoa production to one million metric tonnes (MT) as it improves the local processing of the beans to 50 per cent.
The country already has seven major cocoa processing firms and with an estimated processing capacity of about 500,000 mt, with the construction of a new 50,000 capacity processing factory in the Western Region currently ongoing.
The new factory, when completed, will increase the capacity to about 550,000 which puts them in a position to meet the government’s 50 per cent processing target.
Appreciation to farmers
The CEO also expressed the board’s appreciation to cocoa farmers for their continuous support of the industry.
He said the farmers played an invaluable role in the cocoa value chain and must, therefore, be commended.
“We have great support from our cocoa farmers and other stakeholders within the cocoa value chain and I will like to seize this opportunity to commend our illustrious farmers in particular for their efforts at producing the best quality cocoa for the confectionery market the world over,” he said.
Role of cocoa
The Minister-designate for Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, who launched the chocolate week on behalf of the Vice-President, Dr Mahamadu Bawumia, said cocoa and chocolate played an integral role in the lives of Ghanaians and the economy as a whole.
He said every Ghanaian, in one way or the other, derived benefit from cocoa.
“From foreign exchange earning to employment, food and beverages, cosmetics to the provision of social and infrastructural amenities, the cocoa business is one that can best be described as an essential and robust one with several untapped opportunities,” he said.
He noted that among all the activities within the cocoa value chain, one aspect that required attention was the local consumption of cocoa products in the country.
“I have been told that Ghana’s current per capita consumption hovers around 0.52kg whereas elsewhere on the globe, and mainly among non-cocoa producing countries, per capita consumption ranges between three and 11kg.”
“Fortunately for us, the popularity of chocolate and cocoa products is growing in the country. Ghanaians are beginning to understand and appreciate the health benefits of cocoa and its related products, resulting in increased demand for high-quality good flavoured cocoa products in various forms,” he said.
He said the government was, therefore, determined to support entrepreneurs and investors interested in cocoa processing and value-addition.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Tourism Authority, Mr Akwasi Agyemang, for his part, said the authority would enhance its collaboration with the Cocoa Processing Company (CPC) to promote the consumption of cocoa within the country’s hospitality industry.
He said it was gratifying to note that hotels in Ghana now served chocolate drinks alongside tea and coffee.
Mr Agyemang said although the hospitality industry was still struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, he was confident that the sector would soon bounce back.
COCOBOD, in collaboration with the Ghana Tourism Authority, launched the 2021 National Chocolate Week which would be celebrated on the theme “eat chocolates, stay healthy and grow Ghana.”
The celebration, which is from February 8-14, is packed with activities to encourage the consumption of chocolate confectionery, beverages, and chocolate-infused dishes.