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Business News of Friday, 28 May 2021

Source: GNA

COCOBOD encourages local consumption of chocolate and cocoa products

Joseph Boahen Aidoo, CEO, COCOBOD Joseph Boahen Aidoo, CEO, COCOBOD

Joseph Boahen Aidoo, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), has encouraged the local consumption of chocolates and other cocoa products, to help boost Ghana’s production levels and value addition.

Mr Aidoo, who was speaking at the Cocoa Value Chain Investment meeting in Accra on Thursday, said the current national average consumption of 0.6 per cent of these products annually, was far too low and discouraging.

“We have the cocoa beans and the technology but the market for the finished product is just not encouraging. It’s not just the processing we want to focus on. We want to create a local demand that will spur on investors to get into local processing of finished cocoa products.

He said regrettably, a large percentage of the finished cocoa products on the Ghanaian market currently, were produced outside the country, because local processing was largely done at the primary level, which included the conversion of the cocoa beans into cocoa butter and liqueur rather than finished products.

Stepping up the per capita consumption of chocolate and cocoa products locally, would not only encourage farmers to increase their productivity levels of the crop, which was currently targeted at 1.5 million tons annually, from the previously 850,000 tonnes, but also attract more investment for value addition, to ensure higher market prices, and ultimately reduce the export of raw cocoa beans.

Mr Aidoo said processing, had been at the primary stage for years because local demand for finished cocoa products has been low, but admitted that great strides had been made over the past four years, and that policies introduced by the government within the period had led to an increase in local processing.

We need to work together to change Ghana’s narrative, by enhancing funding to support small artisanal companies, to produce more cocoa products for the local market at affordable prices, to encourage patronage especially by children due to the enormous health benefits such as the enhancement of cognitive abilities, and as a rich source of antioxidants, and anti-aging properties, he said.

He said Africa was a giant market for cocoa production due to its peculiar climatic conditions, and allayed fears that continents like Asia and Latin America, could overtake and dominate the sector.

He gave the assurance that with Africa’s 1.3 billion population and a median age of 19.7 per cent, “we have more young people who need the energy and calories that cocoa provide,” compared to these competing countries.

Mr Yofi Grant, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), said Ghana aimed to attract a cocoa investment of three billion dollars in 2021, and was poised to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to leverage regional integration to drive investments.

He said Ghana’s cocoa sector currently employed about 800,000 rural families and earned about $2 billion in foreign exchange annually, and that strenuous efforts were being made by the government with a $600 million loan facilitated by the African Development Bank, to ensure the stable supply of the beans.

The support would aid the financing of large scale pollination of cocoa farms, expanded tree pruning, construction of warehouses, rehabilitation of declining plantations and increase local processing, he said.

Mr Grant said Ghana’s cocoa would remain the preferred premium globally for its high quality in terms of the beans, desired fat content and in powder form, but urged producers to move beyond their current production level by harnessing technology from both the pre and post-harvest stages to final products with value addition.

He also pointed at investment opportunities in areas including mechanization and irrigation at pre and post-harvest levels, and assured investors of the availability of cocoa beans to boost the production of products including confectionaries.

The meeting was organised by the GIPC in partnership with the COCOBOD and other foreign partners including the South African High Commission in Ghana.