04 Oct 2017

Ghanaian Cocoa Sector: The Driver of Country’s Global Reputation

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We cannot think of Ghana without thinking of its cocoa beans, which offers a source of income for over 700,000 farmers in the tropical belt of the country. Ghana is the 2nd largest cocoa exporter in the world. Ghanaian cocoa is well-known for its superior quality due to less defective cocoa beans, higher-than average fat content as well as rounded and mild flavor. Over time, cocoa farmers have transformed the way they access land and labor in response to the fluctuating production conditions of a constantly moving cocoa frontier.
West African and indeed global productivity have risen progressively over the past 15-20 years, but this has largely been achieved by bringing more land into production rather than through high yields. However, The Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod) has now declared new plans to boost yields in order to attain a step increase in Cocoa production. This may not yet be satisfactory for the country to challenge Côte D’Ivoire’s position as the world’s biggest producer, however, it should be sufficient to retain Ghana’s 2nd position ranking in the face of Indonesian competition.
The new Cocobod chairperson, Hackman Owusu-Agyeman announced the new plan and strategy at the West Africa Fertilizer Agribusiness Conference in July 2017. The organization is to encourage the use of soil fertility management, more pest and disease control, artificial tree pollination and the planting of improved strains. He also mentioned about the environment preservation and fertilizer formulation as well as application in Ghana in order to build the farmer’s capacity in integrated soil fertility management. However, the government and Cocobod are targeting an enormous increase in cocoa production from 840m tonnes (2016–17) harvest to 1.5m tonnes (2020–21).
Defies and Challenges
At the same conference, chairman of the board of trustees of the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership, Mr. Namanga Ngongi said of African farmers in general: to improve the situation of poor rains and lack of access to better inputs, focus on advancement of farming methods and uptake of modern technologies to trigger agricultural enterprise. Additionally, he said value addition is the key we need to turn up the door to Africa’s new agri-preneurs. Production figures have long been challenging to verify as a consequence of the proliferation of cocoa smuggling between Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. Prices are controlled and effectively regulated by the two countries’ marketing boards and so price variations can make it attractive to smuggle a consignment across the border for sale.
Ghana’s previous goal was for 1.6m by 2026 (as set 18 months ago), but this was largely to be achieved through increasing the acreage under cultivation. The alteration in strategy appears to have been driven by Hackman Owusu-Agyemang himself. He expressed delegates at the conference that the country plays a crucial role in the provision of employment (approx. for 800,000 farmer families) and also serves as a key driver of foreign exchange and Govt. revenue for the provision of socioeconomic conditions. Well, in short, Ghana has been built on the back of the cocoa industry.
The Rural advantages
The crop’s contribution accounts for 24% of export revenues and provides the backbone of the rural economy across wide swathes of this country at a time when there has been some criticism of the gap in development between the urbanized part of the country and the rural centre and north. Besides, the fact that a large proportion of the beans are produced by smallholders helps to back up rural businesses.
About 70% of the world’s cocoa beans come from small independent farms in Central and West Africa, mostly less than 2 hectares in size. A far greater proportion of the Cocoa in Indonesia and Latin America is grown on large plantations. Even if the production targets are achieved, the country does not risk overdependence on the crop as it has a comparatively diverse economy.
Côte d’Ivoire is more vulnerable as cocoa beans accounts for 60% of its export revenue. Aside from the Cocobod strategy, the government is keen to make certain that more of its cocoa is processed inside the Ghana. Nana Akufo-Addo, the President of Ghana held talks with the Swiss government in June 2017 over support for Ghanaian cocoa processing, presumably via Switzerland’s largest chocolate industry. The President announced about a policy of processing more and more cocoa beans in the country. The government plans to offer a range of financial incentives and strategies for processing & manufacturing investment under its “One District, One Factory” programme. The Ghana Cocoa Board, Cocobod hopes that this will boost fertilizer producers and cocoa processors to set up new plants in the rural zones of the country. The government has subsidized fertilizer consumption ever since 2008.
Cocoa beans-Production-Overview
Cote d’Ivoire is still the cocoa superpower in the world with production of 1.7m in 2015-16. Global consumption is presently increasing by about 2.5% a year. Indonesia is the only non-African country among the world’s 5 biggest producers, which also includes Cameroon and Nigeria. Sierra Leone, Uganda, Madagascar and Togo are also significant producers, while production from São Principe and Tomé is considered among the world’s highest-quality cocoa.
Nigerian production is rising, but Cameroon desperately needs additional investment in planting new trees and the yields from its established trees are falling. Deforestation is a key reason and threat across Africa’s cocoa producing areas, so a range of schemes has been launched for protecting forest areas near cocoa farms. For example, the US confectioner Mondelez International has set up its Cocoa Life sourcing programme to encourage sustainable cocoa purchasing.
Head of the climate change unit of Ghana’s Forestry Commission, Yaw Kwakye has announced that the Cocoa Life programme has contributed greatly to ongoing national efforts to make the cocoa industry environmentally and economically sustainable through the promotion of climate-smart approaches and practices to cocoa farming. Spearheading the approval of strategies, best practices and innovation in chief cocoa communities, the programme remains a leader in progressing a new way of cocoa production that addresses forest degradation and deforestation.

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