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New technology introduced to enhance bulk export of Ghana’s cocoa

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Unicontrol Commodity Limited, a storage and cocoa shipping company working for the country’s Cocoa Marketing Company (CMC), has retooled its terminal in readiness for the much anticipated increase in the production  and export of cocoa .

The company uses a system which ensures the export of cocoa beans as a single bulk consignment, a marked departure from the cocoa sacks which were hitherto widely used.

The new technology, which is being practised in a country such as Holland, also ensures that vessels transporting cocoa beans from Ghana are loaded in two days, cutting down significantly from the long days of about a  fortnight that it takes to load bags of cocoa beans into marine vessels.

According to officials of Unicontrol Commodity, since its inception in 1999 to export cocoa on behalf of CMC, the turnaround time for vessels at the Takoradi Port, especially those loading cocoa beans, had reduced tremendously and had eased vessel congestion at the Takoradi Port.

This came to light at the inauguration of a refurbished and equipped cocoa terminal at the Takoradi Port operated by Unicontrol to ensure that long periods of loading large vessels were reduced.

Speaking to the media, the Business Development Director, Mr Eric Andre, said since the company started working for CMC to date, it had successfully exported a total of 1.9 million tonnes of cocoa using the bulk export approach.

He said the company exported about 230,000 tonnes of cocoa during the 2010/2011 crop season  and had the capacity to scale up to about 325,000 tonnes a year since it could load a vessel of about 8,000 tonnes in just two days.

With the Unicontrol system, cocoa arrives at the shed in bags which are emptied into the terminal for CMC  to conduct quality control exercises to ensure that the beans are of the best quality that Ghana is noted for .

After that the heap of beans is loaded into the marine vessel using conveyer belts positioned at the quayside at the port for export.

“This process takes only two days to load; hitherto it took a week and half which was not the best as the demand for the use of the quayside by other vessels was very high,” Mr Andre said.

The Country Manager of Unicontrol Commodity, Mr Kor Ritsema, said as part of the rehabilitation exercise, the company has invested in roofing, weighing machines, lightening systems and the general improvement of the terminal in readiness for the anticipated increase in cocoa production.

He said after the successful introduction of the cost effective technology to receive cocoa beans in bulk some years ago in Holland, its replication in exporting countries had become essential and prudent, saying: “It was therefore important that countries with dedicated terminals for cocoa like Ghana make it easier to export in bulk without much delay which came with advantage for the exporting and the importing countries,” he said.

Source: Daily Graphic

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