The Eastern Regional Office of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) has embarked on a sensitisation drive on cocoa products consumption as part of National Chocolate Week (NCW) celebration.
The GTA led by the Deputy Director for Hospitality, Ms Bertha Appeynarh, distributed over 400 pieces of chocolates to children and adults on Friday, February 11 and Sunday, February 13, 2022 at the Masjid Riida Mosque at Koforidua-Zongo and the Apostolic Church-Ghana Rehoboth Assembly, Koforidua, Pipeline respectively.
She took the opportunity to encourage them to patronise cocoa products as it contained many health benefits.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, she said the celebration was to boost domestic tourism and domestic consumption of Ghanaian chocolates and other cocoa based-products as well as to highlight the health benefits of chocolate and other cocoa products.
She urged parents and children to develop the habit of consuming cocoa-based products; adding that chocolates improved the health needs of consumers and reduced risks of heart diseases and stroke.
"Chocolate, especially the dark ones are loaded with nutrients that can positively affect our health. It lowers high blood pressure, it improves brain functions, it is one of the best antioxidants, it balances cholesterol levels, regulates blood sugar levels. Consuming chocolate can improve your health and lower the risk of heart diseases and stroke," she said.
On the focus of the celebration, she stated that it was "re-purposed and re-christened by the GTA as National Chocolate Week to celebrate love and companionship by the consumption and sharing of cocoa products to loved ones in recognition of Valentine’s Day".
The 17th edition of the NCW was themed: "Eat chocolate, Stay healthy, Grow Ghana" and sub themed “Our chocolate, Our health, Our wealth”.
Ms Appeynarh said the GTA and Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) have planned series of initiatives to boost consumption of cocoa and cocoa-based products.
"As part of our activities to boost cocoa consumption, GTA and COCOBOD are liaising with Tour Operators to ensure that tours to various tourist sites and attractions include cocoa farms, especially the Tetteh Quarshie Cocoa Farm in order to boost the consumption of cocoa-based products such as chocolates and royale cocoa” she said.
She added that “We are also sensitising hotels and restaurants to ensure that chocolate-based products are part of their menu or snack so that the needed foreign exchange could be raked into the economy."
Also as part of the initiative, she indicated that tour guides would be taken through the necessary training to educate both domestic and international tourists on the health and economic benefits of cocoa and drive people to consume more cocoa products, while cocoa processing companies would be encouraged to increase their production levels by producing more chocolates and other cocoa-based products.
The Effiduase District Pastor of the Apostolic Church - Ghana, Pastor Adjei Mireku and the Chief Imam of Masjid Riida Mosque, Osman Salihu Salihu, expressed gratitude to the GTA for the gesture and urged members to live the true meaning of Valentine's Day.
Pastor Mireku urged members to love each other, which he said was the hallmark of Christianity, adding that true reflection of love among Ghanaians was key to the development of the country, hence, should be preached always and not only on Valentine's Day.