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Cocoa and Eco-Tourism; The Eastern Region in focus

Shutterstock 1059190739 Cocoa Beans (1) A photo of Cocoa beans

Tue, 6 Oct 2020 Source: David Oduro

The Eastern Region of Ghana is well-known as the fulcrum of the country’s cocoa production history with many describing the region as the birthplace of Ghana’s burgeoning cocoa industry. Probably, four major cocoa set-ups which continue to attract hundreds of tourists and visitors provide some bases for the region being touted as the hub of cocoa tourism in recent times.

The first cocoa farm, which became the source of seedlings for commercial cocoa farming in Ghana was planted in 1879 by Tetteh Quarshie at Mampong Akuapem, 50 minutes drive from Accra. The farm, which he established with the original amelonado seeds brought from Fernando Po (now Equatorial Guinea), receives numerous visitors from all walks of life every year who come to learn about the history of cocoa faming in a country ranked the best in the production of premium quality cocoa the world over.

Tourists get amazed at seeing offspring (offshoots) of three of the original cocoa trees planted by Tetteh Quarshie still at the farm after 141 years.

Just a stone’s throw away from the Tetteh Quarshie Memorial Farm is the Jubilee Cocoa Farm, planted in 2007 to commemorate Ghana’s Jubilee Year. The farm was planted by various high profile personalities across the world who graced the occasion and visited the Tetteh Quarshie Farm. Each of these diplomats planted a hybrid cocoa seedling in this farm and tagged it to mark their historic visit to the place. Unlike the Tetteh Quarshie farm, this farm was planted with the hybrid cocoa seedlings developed by the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG).

An hour and half drive along the Akuapem Mountains through the environs of Koforidua connect a tourist safely to Akim Tafo where CRIG, another tourist site, is located. In 1938, the Gold Coast Department of Agriculture established the Central Cocoa Research Station at Tafo to investigate problems of diseases and pests which had considerably reduced cocoa production in the Eastern Province. In 1944 it became the West African Cocoa Research Institute (WACRI) with a sub-station in Ibadan, Nigeria, and some research activities undertaken in Sierra Leone. After the attainment of independence by Ghana and Nigeria, WACRI was dissolved, and the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG). Since then the institute has expanded its mandate and conducted scientific researches into various aspects of cocoa production which includes development of improved planting materials for farms among others.

Visiting the Tetteh Quarshie Farm, Jubilee Cocoa Farm, CRIG, Bunso Cocoa Collage and probably the Bunso Aboretum canopy walk all in a day and returning to Accra could be quite daunting for tourists.

However, the headache of looking for a ‘home away from home’ to pass a night or more by a tourist within the Akim Tafo environs appears solved.

Oak Ridge Lodge located approximately 1km from the main entrance of the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana at Akim-Tafo in the Eastern Region has made it easier for all categories of tourists to enjoy perfect comfort, convenience, serenity, relaxation and security that make a visitor enjoy home away from home.

The hotel, which started operations 2years ago, emerged Budget Hotel of the Year 2019 at the recently held 2019 Eastern Regional Tourism Awards ceremony which sought to recognize outstanding services by industry professionals within the hospitality sector having contested 366 hotels in the same category in the region.

The Ag. Managing Director of the hotel, Mr. Kwaku Oppong said his outfit had supported the hospitality industry immensely over the past two years and further indicated that Oak Ridge Lodge was designed with the client in mind with standard, queen, king rooms and the chalets which have free WiFi and internet, in addition to other services such as breakfast, in-room telephone and directory, as well as air-conditioners in fulfilment of the hotel’s tagline, ‘Relaxing in Comfort’. Mr Oppong called on the public especially tourists and visitors to patronize their services and be part of the Oak Ridge Lodge family. He was optimistic that the hotel would expand its infrastructure to meet the taste of its diverse clients and position itself to win more awards in the years to come.

Anytime you visit Koforidua and its environs and you think of a refreshing and secure place to pass the night, to do not hesitate to visit Oak Ridge Lodge to enjoy the best of service and a serene environment. Online booking and reservations are available.

Columnist: David Oduro