We have made progress but let's do more - K.O.N charges cocoa industry

We have made progress but let's do more - K.O.N charges cocoa industry
  1. When I got the invitation for a third year in  row, I wondered if it was deliberate on the part of the organisers to make me a permanent associate of this celebration.or a mere act of serendipity. Nevertheless, I wish to indicate my heartfelt appreciation for the opportunity to be part of this project.
  2. It is worth emphasising that the core purpose of the Chocolate Week Celebration is to promote local consumption of chocolate and other cocoa-based products among others.
  3. Let me use this opportunity to appreciate all stakeholders on the cocoa value chain for their respective roles in working to build a robust cocoa economy.

The National Chocolate Day Celebration was instituted in 2005 to coincide with Valentine’s Day which falls on 14th February every year to boost the domestic consumption of Ghana chocolate and other cocoa-based products among others. What used to be a day celebration, was transformed into a week-long celebration in 2022 due to the numerous benefits the country stands to gain if the cocoa industry is nationally promoted.

The exploits of Ghana in the World Cocoa Industry cannot be underestimated.

Brief background of Ghana’s cocoa

Ghana’s cocoa cultivation has gone through various stages over the years. After its introduction in 1895 by Tetteh Quarshie from Fernando Po, now Bioko in Equatorial Guinea, it was first exported at the end of the 19th Century. Ghana later become a leading producer of Cocoa and has since alternated that Position with Ivory Coast. On the average, Ghana produces about 700,000MT per year since 2012. (Cocoa Sector Report by GCB Bank, 2022)

It is estimated that the contribution of cocoa to Ghana’s GDP will rise GHS 4.1 billion USD by 2025.

Cocoa is the third-largest foreign exchange earner for the country after Gold and Crude Oil. Revenues from the industry has been on an upward trajectory since 2019. It ended 2019 at US$2.29 billion but rose to US$2.34 billion in 2020 before peaking at US$ 2.85 billion in 2021, according to Bank of Ghana data. In effect, the cocoa industry is playing a significant role in stabilizing the local currency.

The cocoa industry is one of the leading industries that absorb a significant number of Ghana’s labour force. The farming alone employs an approximate of 800,000 hands directly. Other related services such as extension services, retailing, seed providers, input providers, quality assurance, shipping lines, haulage and transports among others also employ a significant number of people in the country. It is estimated that cocoa production covers an arable land area of 1.2 million hectares spread across 64 cocoa districts.

Due to the importance of the commodity to the individual and the country at large, successive governments have taken a number of initiatives to regulate and manage the crop at all the various levels of the value chain.

In recent years, these have included theNational Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme, the Hand Pollination Programme, Pruning Exercise,Cocoa Diseases and Pests Programme.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the indications are therefore very clear that we have made progress in the industry. But we can do more.

Ladies and gentlemen, while continuing with efforts to boost domestic production of cocoa, we must take advantage of this year’s celebration to step up efforts to increase processing of cocoa locally

  • And one of the ways todo this is that, is to guarantee the light crop for the local producers so that they do not have to buy the main crop for domestic processing. As we know, the main crop is comparatively more expensive. If we are serious about boosting local production then we must move quickly to ensure that local processors are able to fully meet their bean needs from the light crop.
  • We must secondly use policy instruments to ensure that financing support is provided for domestic processors. The financial sector should be incentivized to provide financing for the domestic processors using the cocoa beans as security and escrowing into an account of the off-takers. The challenge of financing domestic processors will be lightened via this channel.
  • Thirdly, although the incentives offered by theGhana Free Zones Authority are endearing enough to attract more domestic processors, they aren’t well known. These incentives should be better highlighted by the freezones Authority and COCOBOD to attract more processors to set up in the freezones area and then process.

On the matter of stimulating domestic consumption of cocoa products

  • We need to promote more chocolatiers to join the value chain. The more domestic chocolatiers and nuanced products there are on the local market, the better our chances of deepening the local taste and demand. The red carpet of incentives as we would give a foreign direct investor should be rolled out for local chocolatiers as well.
  • Secondly, The thirty-five percent (35%) tax on butter and liquor (raw materials for chocolatiers) should be re-considered. This will make it less expensive to finance operations. It will also make the final products more affordable on the market.
  • Finally we should support initiatives across Africa to stimulate consumption among schoolchildren. Sectors of our economy making super profits can be encouraged to finance such initiatives which will serve as an investment for the growth of a future market in Africa for our cocoa products.

Nana Chairman, My hope is that some of these initiatives when implemented will be instrumental in giving true impetus to the rhetoric of boosting the cocoa industry in Ghana.

4.    On this note, I declare the 2023 NationalChocolate Week Celebration “DulyLaunched”.

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