President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has reiterated his government’s commitment to improving the country’s agriculture, especially the cocoa sub-sector, through the mass spraying exercise and provision of subsidized fertilizers to farmers.
According to the president, Ghana will soon regain her pride of place in the cocoa industry with deliberate policies and measures aimed at boosting production.
Speaking at a grand durbar to celebrate Cocoa Day in Kumasi yesterday, President Akufo-Addo indicated that as part of the policy to increase production, the government had taken away the oversight responsibility of the cocoa industry from the Ministry of Finance.
The ceremony was under the theme, “70 Years on: Mobilizing for a Sustainable Cocoa Economy,” with the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, being named as Cocoa Consumption Ambassador.
President Akufo-Addo revealed that the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) has now been made responsible for all matters relating to the cocoa industry for effective formulation of relevant policies required to boost agriculture and cocoa production.
“Today, one of the greatest threats in the cocoa industry in our country is not disease or death; price volatility on the international cocoa market represents, perhaps, the biggest threat to our cocoa. The prices of cocoa are forecast to remain low till the year 2020,” President Akufo-Addo disclosed.
He stated that the fortunes of the country’s cocoa farmers unfortunately have become tied to the volatile cocoa beans market.
He explained that this accounted for the cooperation between Ghana and her sister nation, Cote d’Ivoire – the two largest cocoa producers in the world – to ensure that they do not continue to be victims of trade of the global cocoa industry to the detriment of the hard work of the two countries’ farmers.
“I have, since assuming office, worked closely with His Excellency Alassane Dramane Ouattara, President of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, to provide the necessary leadership, and technical and political cooperation that addresses effectively the international cocoa pricing from short to medium term,” he pointed out.
President Akufo-Addo said the two countries were fashioning a far-reaching policy towards achieving a shared vision of an industrialized and profitable domestic cocoa economy.
“Together, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire account for more than 60 percent of the world cocoa output. Ghana, for example, earned US$2 billion for the sale of cocoa beans in the year 2015. Cote d’Ivoire earned US$3.7 billion,” he revealed.
According to the president, the two put together, amounted to US$5.7 billion and yet the total proceed realized from the global value of cocoa amounted to US$100 billion, pointing out that that translated to 5.7 percent received, despite the hard work and sweat of the nations’ farmers.
President Akufo-Addo said that could not be allowed to continue since it constitutes a manifest injustice to the producers, and intimated further that Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire need to device ways to ensure that farmers reap much better value from their activities.
He disclosed that he had asked the Minister of Food and Agriculture to direct the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) to work towards increasing domestic processing of cocoa beans from the current levels to a minimum of 50 percent annual production by 2020.
In the president’s view, this would increase significantly Ghana’s export revenues and foreign exchange earnings from cocoa.
He stated that this should go beyond grinding of the cocoa beans to tertiary manufacturing for local consumption.
“Chocolate and cocoa products from Ghana should be readily accessible anywhere on the globe. As part of the ‘one district, one factory’ programme, Cocobod and other private sector activists will roll out programmes that create small scale cocoa processing industries across the cocoa growing districts of our country,” he underscored.
President Akufo-Addo challenged the country’s youth to take advantage of the opportunities that will be made available.
“The export market, nonetheless, should be focused with the processing of the cocoa,” he asserted and added that this ought to be done alongside the promotion of the nutritional and health benefits of cocoa consumption.
The celebration attracted top government officials and other international high-profile personalities, including the President of the World Cocoa Foundation, Richard Scobey and representatives of the International Cocoa Organisation.