The Chinese Vice-Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Mr Yu Kangzhen, last Saturday paid a working visit to the Cocoa Processing Company (CPC) to understand the operations of the company and how his ministry could partner with the company.
The minister is also seeking to help promote cocoa products, particularly chocolate and the other range of products from the company in China.
The Chinese minister, who was accompanied by a team of heads of various sectors of the ministry, was led to the company by the Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture in charge of Annual Crops and Animal Husbandry, Dr Sagre Bambangi.
They toured the processing plant from when the beans are brought into the factory until they are converted into the finished and the semi-finished products.
Briefing by CPC Managing Director
Before the visit to the plant, the Managing Director of the CPC, Nana Agyenin Boateng, briefed the Chinese on the operations of the company, explaining that the company was into semi-finished and finished products.
He said it was an opportunity for the Chinese to get a fair understanding of the production line of the company and identify how they could collaborate with the company to increase production.
Nana Boateng said for instance that the focus of the sector minister, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, was to do more processing instead of exporting the raw beans, explaining that that area could be of interest to the Chinese to support the company.
He said currently there were eight companies adding value to cocoa in the country, adding that until the year 2000, it was only the CPC that was doing “beans to bar”, that is from the cocoa beans to the chocolate bar.
Walking the Chinese through the background of the production of cocoa in the country, Nana Boateng said under the PNDC Law 87, the sale of cocoa in the country was vested into the CPC and no farmer was allowed to sell his products.
“So under the laws of the country, it is only the COCOBOD that can sell, warehouse and export on behalf of the farmer,” he said.
He said there were licensed buying companies who were the interface between the COCOBOD and the farmers, who interacted with the banks in order to pay the farmers.
Nana Boateng explained that the cocoa beans were subjected to scrutiny to ensure that the beans were in the best quality before they were exported.
After the tour, Mr Yu was full of commendation for Dr Akoto for the leadership he was providing to the agricultural sector.
“I admire him for his strong will to modernise agriculture in this country,” he said, adding that he and his team was in the country to understand the cocoa sector and what they could to support it, especially in the value chain production.
Dep. Agric Minister
For his part, Dr Bambangi was happy that the Vice-Minister and his team had first-hand information on Ghana’s agricultural sector and particularly on cocoa.
He believed that the visit to the country and the tour of the CPC would increase the interest of the team and the quest to collaborate with the company to increase value addition to the cocoa beans.
Dr Bambangi explained that even though the Chinese were in the country primarily for the cocoa sector, “we use the opportunity to take them to AGRITOP, an Israeli company in greenhouse technology, The Ghana Flowers and Greens Ltd and to an irrigation farm at Dawhenya in the Greater Accra Region”.