Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, CEO of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), has said more work is needed to be done towards securing a medium to long-term syndication facility worth $600 Million to embark on a transformation of the entire cocoa industry.
He said the annual syndicated facility has always been used to buy cocoa beans from farmers and it is prudent to seek funding from other sources to reengineer the farms to shore up production.
Mr Aidoo said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, in lieu of the syndication loan facility at the sidelines of a boardroom session as part of the Africa Investment Forum (AIF) in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The AIF is a totally transactional platform dedicated to advancing projects to bankable stages, raising capital and accelerating the financial closure of deals and organized by the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group.
He said the facility availability dovetails into management’s strategy to rehabilitate old farms, disease trees and create irrigation systems for cocoa farms as well as timeous application hand pollination.
“The target is to increase production from the current 15 bags per acre to 30 bags, maximizing land for increased yields expecting that in the next three years, and needed the loan to construct warehouses to store the commodity.”
The COCOBOD CEO said another target is to develop the local processing landscape with a national capacity of 450,000 metric tons, but “We are currently processing about 220,000 metric tons.”
He said there was need to scale-up and support local entrepreneurs in the commodity value-chain and again expand existing factories.
He said production within the next three-to-five years is expected to hit 1.3 – 1.5 million metric tons in order that export values are increased and the bean processed into cocoa drinks and chocolates for consumption by school children and the general public as directed by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
Mr Aidoo said an affirmation on the signing of the facility agreement by AfDB, the arranger of the facility is expected by December, this year, comes to fruition, so by February, next year, the cash would be available for these projects.
He said management of COCOBOD would rollout a strategy for continuous mass cocoa spraying and extending that to the exercise of pruning and spraying of cashew plantations to shore-up production of the two commodities.
He predicted that demand for cocoa would continue to be high, even in hundred years to come saying “Management of COCOBOD is strategically repositioning itself to begin considering planning towards the next 30 – 50 years from now and laying the right tactics towards addressing and achieving both local and foreign expectations.