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Business News of Thursday, 21 February 2008

Source: GNA

Cuba to import cocoa from Ghana

Havana, Feb. 21, GNA- Cuba has expressed interest to step up the importation of cocoa from Ghana to supplement the local production of the cash crop to boost chocolate production. Mr Alejandro Roca Iglesias, Minister of Cuba's Food Ministry made this known in Havana when he interacted with Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama, who is on a seven-day official visit to the country.

He said Cuba needed more cocoa beans for processing at a new plant that would be operational this year.

Mr Iglesias said his country had established an international school for chocolate production and asked Ghana to send students to the teaching facility that would impart the skill to produce hand-made chocolates.

He said so far Cuba had 10 of the novelty hand-made chocolate factories in the country.

Vice President Alhaji Mahama said the requests made by the Minister would be tackled when the two countries reactivate their Joint Commission for Co-operation this year.

He assured the Cuban authorities of the desire of Ghana to train its citizenry in cocoa production in the country, stressing: "Ghana does not want to go too far. We want to come to Cuba to get it."

Vice President Alhaji Mahama called for the assistance of Cuba to revamp Ghana's sugarcane industry.

He expressed disquiet about the high post-harvest losses in Ghana and called for joint ventures with Cuba to reverse the situation.

At another meeting, the Minister of Basic Industry, Mrs Yadira Garcia Vera said an energy revolution started by her country since 2006 had resulted in energy stability and efficiency in Cuba, thus utilising electricity for more productive uses.

She said Cuba had been the testing grounds for energy saving bulbs imported from China, leading to the changing of 60 million incandescent bulbs in Venuezuela alone.

Vice President Alhaji Mahama visited Labiofam, a research institute that deals in a variety of activities such as the biological control of mosquitoes and the production of pesticides and vaccines.

The Enterprise Director, Jose Antonio Castro said the institute was carrying out research to develop a vaccine for Bird Flu. Vice President Alhaji Mahama expressed the interest of Ghana to co-operate with the institute to eradicate mosquitoes, which, he said, had led to expending huge sums of money to treat malaria.

In another development, the Vice President visited the African National Heroes Park in Havana and laid a wreath on a monument built in honour of Pan-Africanists such as Ghana's first President; Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Amilcar Kabral, Patrice Lumumba and Edourdo Mondlane. He was also at the Revolution Square, where he laid a wreath at a monument in honour of Jose Marti, Cuba's National Hero.

Speaking at the 'Colon' cemetery, where the mortal remains of Cuban liberation fighters have been buried, he quoted the adage that any nation that failed to honour its fallen heroes was not worth dying for.