Domestic cocoa processing, way to go

BY: Daily Graphic

In 2017 during a visit to Ghana by the Ivorien President, Alassane Ouattara, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo lamented the fact that the world’s two largest producers of cocoa — Ghana and Cote d-Ivoire — were earning a pittance from the crop because not much value was added to it before export.

“It is worth stressing again on this occasion that in 2015, our two countries earned from our output, which accounted for 65 per cent of the world’s cocoa production, some $5.75 billion, at a time when the global chocolate market was worth some $100 billion.

It meant that our farmers, through whose toil and sweat the cocoa industry is founded, earned 5.75 per cent of the global value chain of the industry. This is manifest injustice that cannot and should not continue,” President Akufo-Addo had said.

Earlier in May 2016, the African Union (AU) had also bemoaned that although cocoa producers in Africa accounted for 75 per cent of the world’s supply of the crop, they derived just two per cent in revenue from the $100 billion cocoa industry.

The President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina, stated bluntly: “Africa is stuck at the bottom of the cocoa value chain, dominated instead of dominating – despite being the leading producer.”

He attributed the development to the fact that over the years the continent, and Ghana in particular, had failed to add value to the beans to help increase earnings.

Fortunately for Ghana, President Akufo-Addo did not only bewail the sad situation with respect to earnings by the major producers of cocoa — he was determined to ensure that under his watch at least 50 per cent of cocoa produced would be processed before export, so that Ghana would enjoy its fair share of revenue from the crop.

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The interventions being made have already started paying off and the Daily Graphic commends the government for its efforts at reversing the pathetic trend.

Current estimates show that domestic processing of cocoa hit 300,000 tonnes in the 2017/2018 cocoa season, which represented a 19 per cent leap from the 252,000 tonnes processed the previous season.

According to the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), the increase in domestic processing was due mainly to the support the board gave some of the processing companies to revamp their operations to grind more beans.

In that case, the Daily Graphic urges COCOBOD not to relent but continue to support local companies by helping to increase their capacities, so that it stays the course to meet the 2022 target of processing a minimum of 50 per cent of cocoa output locally, as envisioned by the President.

It should gladden the heart of every Ghanaian that as a result of the support schemes granted companies, indigenous processor — the Cocoa Processing Company (CPC) — has grown its processed quantity by 119 per cent and Niche Cocoa by 39 per cent, while BD Associates processed 78 per cent more cocoa and the three became the main drivers of the 19 per cent growth in volumes processed.

The Daily Graphic believes that to sustain the momentum on the tonnage processed annually to hit the 50 per cent mark and even exceed it, the government must continue to keep faith with the processors and soon we will enjoy more than the $2 billion average returns we get in cocoa export earnings every year.