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Ghana Startups to Get Direct Cocoa Beans Supply This Year

Ghanaian farmers and local cocoa processing startups would, starting this year, be able to purchase cocoa beans directly from the national cocoa trading agency, Cocoa Marketing Company (CMC), for chocolate and confectionery manufacturing.

The move is in line with a new policy announced by the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) to address the high cost of made-in-Ghana cocoa products and to spur economic growth.

“The Board has concluded on its policy to provide the requisite backstopping for all persons and firms who are involved in local value addition of cocoa,” stated Emmanuel Ray Ankrah, a Deputy Chief Executive of Cocobod, at the launch of the 2024 National Chocolate Week celebration.

He added, “Starting this year, artisanal chocolate makers can buy cocoa beans directly from the Cocoa Marketing Company Ltd., our subsidiary in-charge of trading Ghana’s cocoa beans locally and internationally.”

The policy, dubbed the Regulations and Guidelines for the Artisanal Chocolate and Small Scale Chocolate Manufacturers in Ghana, was co-formulated with the industry advocacy body Cocoa Value Addition Artisans Association of Ghana (COVAAAGH).

Four-Decade-Old Restriction Lifted

Its expected implementation this year will effectively override a 40-year-old law that prohibited cocoa farmers and small-scale processors from adding value to the locally produced commodity.

Entrepreneurs and cocoa growers desirous of utilising Ghanaian cocoa beans by way of value addition have to meet a minimum 50-metric-ton purchase threshold.

The Ghana Cocoa Board Law 1984 (PNDL 81) prescribes very stiff punishment, including imprisonment, for infringements on its provisions and regulations.

This legal regime has, in the last 40 years, facilitated the exportation of Ghana’s premium cocoa, along with millions of potential jobs and wealth opportunities overseas.

The President of the Cocoa Value Addition Artisans Association of Ghana (COVAAAGH), George Adjei-Bekoe, has welcomed the announcement as “in the right direction.”

“With this policy, we can buy cocoa beans directly and in smaller quantities, which will significantly reduce our cost of production,” explained Adjei-Bekoe, who is also the Managing Director of Gablin Foods.

Adjei-Bekoe said this will contribute to reducing the high cost of production and position our indigenous businesses on the path of growth, jobs, and wealth creation.

“In the long run, it is the consumers who benefit in terms of the competitive and affordable shelf price of our quality and healthy products,” he added.

Additionally, he noted, “This remarkable step will not only bolster the domestic cocoa value chain but also promote economic growth, job creation, and also increase Ghana’s share of the global cocoa and chocolate industry valued at $130 billion.”

Currently, Ghanaian SME cocoa value-addition startups are burdened with a plethora of levies and taxes imposed on semi-finished cocoa products sourced from large-scale processors.

“In light of the current lack of direct access to cocoa beans, our local small-scale manufacturing enterprises are forced to source semi-finished raw material from the Free Zones cocoa processing companies at exorbitant prices, which include import duty, levies, and taxes amounting to over 59%,” said the COVAAAGH President.

While the prevailing regime has stifled Ghanaian industry in the sector over the years, the spokesperson for COCOBOD, Fiifi Boafo, told Cocoa Post that the policy ushers in a new paradigm of entrepreneurial innovation in the cocoa value-addition business.

“So for an artisanal chocolate maker or someone who is using the cocoa beans to do a cake, ice cream, or something, they do not require that much, so it has been a challenge and they’ve had to rely on third parties, which adds to the cost,” he explained.

“And also, how they want it they do not get the niche product they prefer. So what we have done now is to set in place an arrangement that allows them to have direct access to beans and process it the way they want it,” added Boafo.

Per the new regulation, artisanal chocolate makers and value-addition artisans are required to register with COCOBOD to benefit from the direct cocoa beans supply policy.

Meanwhile, activities lined up for this year’s National Chocolate Week celebration are set to kickstart with a health walk on 10th February, and climaxes on 14th February on the theme ‘Eat Chocolate, Stay Healthy, Grow Ghana.’

The National Chocolate Week event aims to promote local consumption and showcase Ghana’s rich cocoa heritage.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), Akwesi Agyeman, expressed his excitement at the growing recognition and appreciation for the rich cultural heritage of cocoa in Ghana.

He said the GTA is thrilled about the partnership they have forged with cocoa product manufacturing companies and the COCOBOD, which has transformed the previous Chocolate Day celebration into the National Chocolate Week over the last three years.

Agyeman highlighted their ongoing efforts to promote the ‘See Ghana, Eat Ghana, Wear Ghana, and Feed Ghana’ project, emphasising the need to focus on increasing cocoa and chocolate consumption across the value chain of the tourism and hospitality sectors.

He noted that the production and consumption of cocoa and chocolate-based products have been on the rise over the past few years. Agyeman also mentioned that National Chocolate Week serves as a platform to showcase the exceptional quality and diversity of Ghanaian chocolate.

The Managing Director of Cocoa Processing Company, Kwadwo Ofori Sarfo, urged Ghanaians to support locally produced chocolate and confectionery, assuring that initiatives are in place to meet market demands for cocoa products.

“Ghanaians must patronise locally produced chocolate and confectionery to help increase production. About the availability of cocoa beans we have taken a lot of initiatives to ensure that we have enough to process to meet market demands,” he said.

Prince Fiifi Yorke
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