Business News of Wed, 11 Jul 20185

Cocoa sector growth attracts massive foreign investment

The consistent growth of the country’s cocoa sector has attracted massive foreign investments into an industry that has been the backbone of Ghana’s economy for decades, President of the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) Richard Scobey has said.

The COCOBOD secured a US$1.3billion syndicated loan with some 25 international banks to fund cocoa purchases for the 2017/18 crop season. In 2016/17 the Board again secured US$2billion for crop purchases, while in 2015/16 its pre-export syndicated loan amounted to US$1.8billion.

Mr. Scobey describes the country’s cocoa as “the jewel of Ghana”, the most important source of income and livelihood for smallholder farmers, and the generator of critical export earnings for government.

“We are very impressed with the quality and sustainability of the cocoa produced in Ghana. The WCF and our partners are very committed to partnering with Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and the farmers of Ghana on key sustainability issues,” Mr. Scobey said.

Mr. Scobey was speaking to cocoa value chain actors at a validation workshop in Accra, aimed at soliciting ideas from stakeholders toward reintroduction of the Ghana Cocoa Platform.

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“So, for example, the CEO of Cocoa Board, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, recently travelled to China to promote Ghana’s quality cocoa in that market – and that is a huge opportunity to increase the demand,” Scobey said.

He urged Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire to collaborate in dealing with the issues of production and supply. He noted that the yields of cocoa in Ghana are relatively low as compared to world yields, and that “a collaboration will increase yields from 700,000 to 1000,000 metric tonnes of Cocoa for the cocoa crop season”.

Dr. Yaw Adu Ampomah, Deputy Chief Executive, COCOBOD, explained that the country is on course to achieve one million metric tonnes of cocoa production earlier than the expected five-year target, due to various innovations the new management is implementing.

According to Dr. Ampomah, last year the new management – which began implementing various innovative interventions to significantly improve crop yields – started charting a new course that will increase crop output to one million tonnes within five years.

“Achieving one million metric tonnes of cocoa beans is obviously going to impact significantly on the socio-economic conditions of rural farmers,” he said.

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Ghana produced an unprecedented one million tonnes of cocoa during the 2010-11 crop-year, thanks to good weather and improved farming techniques. Production, however, declined to about 850,000 tonnes during the last crop season.

Dr. Ampomah said: “Our target was around 900,000 metric and we are almost there in meeting it. We made the target in the major season, and we are very confident of meeting this production target.”

He noted that the damage from galamsey is highly significant, but was optimistic that “some interventions put in place – including the replacement of diseased cocoa trees with highly effective ones and the provision of highly subsidised fertilisers, Ghana can produce more than we are producing now. With all the interventions we put in place, we intend to increase productivity”.

Director in Charge of Research, Monitoring and Evaluation at COCOBOD, Vincent Akomeah, while making a presentation on the Cocoa Platform explained that reintroduction of the platform will particularly focus on views from cocoa farmers.

The Ghana Cocoa Platform was first established in 2013 under the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to improve the value chain of the country’s cocoa sector.

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Mr. Akomeah indicated that the Ghana Cocoa Platform will support stakeholders to provide convening and coordination on technical issues beyond the topic of extension and into other thematic areas of the cocoa sector that would benefit from a public-private partnership approach to cocoa development.

“The platform, through plenary sessions, provides opportunities for a wider inclusion of sector stakeholders to discuss a myriad of issues that will have a positive impact on the Ghanaian cocoa sector,” he said.

Mr. Akomeah noted that the Platform is to be led by COCOBOD, with UNDP providing technical advice, facilitation and organisation support to set up and run the platform.

He stated that the platform will permit all the active stakeholders to provide leadership, adding that its object is to boost sustainable production in the country´s cocoa sector through enhanced partnership and cooperation among stakeholders.

Mr. Akomeah indicated that the Platform’s Implementing Agency, the COCOBOD, is responsible for overall implementation of the cocoa platform.

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He explained that the platform has four related bodies — the Platform Steering Committee (SC), Platform Plenary group, Platform Technical Committees, and the Platform Coordination Unit (PCU).

“The Chairman of the Platform will be the Chief Executive of COCOBOD. This is highly advantageous as it brings a high level of government ownership and leadership to the Platform,” he said.

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