Joseph Boahen Aidoo (right), CEO, COCOBOD, with Edward Kareweh (left) and Dede Amanor-Wilks
Joseph Boahen Aidoo (right), CEO, COCOBOD, with Edward Kareweh (left) and Dede Amanor-Wilks

Cocoa country’s oxygen — Boahen Aidoo

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Joseph Boahen Aidoo, has urged the public to see the cocoa sector as the lifeline and the oxygen of the country’s economy. 


His reason is that the health of the Ghanaian economy depends on the performance of the country’s cocoa sector, describing the sector as the “oxygen” to the country’s economy in terms of generating and retaining foreign exchange.

“Anytime the cocoa money is not in, the cedi suffers—meaning the cedi is deprived of the needed oxygen,” Mr Aidoo said, and added that “and when the [cocoa] money comes in, that’s where you see the health of the cedi.”

Your Ghana, My Ghana show

Mr Aidoo made the remarks on Graphic’s Online TV show dubbed "Your Ghana, My Ghana" on May 7, 2024, which was aired on Thursday, May 9, this year. The programme, which also hosted the General Secretary of the Ghana Agricultural Workers’ Union (GAWU), Edward Kareweh, as a panel member, discussed cocoa production in Ghana and its attendant issues on the theme: “Will Cocoa be part of Ghana’s future”.

The show, hosted by Dede Amanor-Wilks, offered viewers a unique and insightful perspective on Ghana’s new cocoa sector and its future prospective, taking into account the challenges facing the sector.

Why cocoa is oxygen to Ghana

Mr Aidoo said the cash crop had moved beyond being the mainstay of the country’s economy to the position of being the oxygen to the economy. “I want to believe that it is one national commodity that brings in the hard currency; the dollars in total,” he averred.

The COCOBOD CEO noted that even when foreign exchange was earned from gold and bauxite, among others, not all the revenues realised from their sales remained in the country. “However, cocoa, unlike other foreign exchange earners, is able to bring in all revenues generated from it,” Mr Aidoo stated.

He explained that in the case of cocoa “whatever is produced in this country and sold outside comes back in the form of US dollars to support the economy.”

Ghana’s cocoa sector

Ghana is the second largest cocoa producer in the world. As a traditional export commodity, the country depends heavily on cocoa for a chunk of its foreign exchange earnings as well as a provider of employment opportunities for a significant number of the population, especially in rural areas.

The cash crop is mainly cultivated by peasant farmers on small plots of land usually less than three hectares in the cocoa growing areas, namely Ashanti, Bono, Bono East, Ahafo, Central, Eastern, Western, Western North, Volta and Oti regions, where rainfall is between 1,000 and 1,500 millimetres per year.

Over the years, many Ghanaian cocoa farmers have complained about the incidence of low crop yields and its resultant effects on their financial fortunes. Also persistent over the years are the dwindling fortunes of Ghana’s cocoa production capacity.

Various reasons have been assigned for the declining state of the country’s cocoa production, among which are low producer price, decrease in areas under cultivation, non-compliance with standard farm practices, incidence of pests and diseases and low yields per hectare.

Exploitation of cocoa farmers

The COCOBOD CEO refuted claims that COCOBOD was exploiting cocoa farmers, describing the perception as “absolutely wrong.” For him, cocoa farmers rather enjoyed the greater part of the proceeds realised from the sales of the cocoa beans, pointing out that cocoa farmers received about 96 per cent of revenues from the cash crop.

Mr Aidoo explained that COCOBOD retained only four per cent of the proceeds from the cocoa sector, which he explained, were used in areas that directly and indirectly ended up with the farmers.

He said the agency’s overhead administration cost remained in that four per cent, adding that farmers were given free seedlings and got their farms sprayed for them for free. The CEO further explained that COCOBOD also engaged workers — about 48,000 in number — each year to carry out the cocoa farm spraying exercise, bought machines for the spraying exercise, as well as provided storage facilities for the purchased cocoa beans.

Additionally, Mr Aidoo said, COCOBOD also bore the responsibility in transporting cocoa beans to the ports for shipment. “Right from the planting materials up to the point of harvesting, through to the sale of the cocoa outside the country, everything ought to be done by COCOBOD,” he explained.

For the COCOBOD Chief Executive, most of the work that the agency did for the farmers “are free of charge”, citing research work that was done to get good varieties and planting materials for the farmers as well as prevent pests and diseases as some of the ‘goodies’ farmers enjoyed from the board to ensure that “the cocoa we produce is the best, safe and marketable.”

Mr Aidoo said COCOBOD over the years have been employing the services of experts and other technical people to ensure that the cocoa sector was in the right health, stating that all the services came at a cost to the agency.

Also sharing his views on the future of cocoa, Mr Kareweh stated that the entire nation had a decision to make with regard to cocoa — whether we still want to have the crop as the nation’s foreign exchange earner or we look to other sources.

The General Secretary of GAWU explained that the sector was critical to the country’s economy and, therefore, needed national attention. For him, because all the revenue from the cocoa sector went to the producers who are also Ghanaians, it helped the country to retain revenues in the sector domestically.


Mr Kareweh said unlike other cash crops that earned the country foreign exchange, everything from cocoa stayed in the country, adding “I can say that not even a single dollar is repatriated because those who produce cocoa in Ghana are Ghanaians.”

He expressed the view that if the cocoa model was replicated in other parts of the economy, “we will be able to retrieve so much of the foreign exchange we generate in this country.”

The GAWU General Secretary also supported the position of the COCOBOD CEO that the agency (COCOBOD) did not exploit farmers. Mr Kareweh, however, noted that what people usually raised concerns over was the fact that when the world market price rose so much, they expected the same rise for the cocoa farmers, which “is not feasible.”

He, however, appealed to all Ghanaians to take care of the environment which was the bedrock for cocoa production, stressing that galamsey must be stopped as it posed a risk to the cocoa industry.


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