Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, the two largest cocoa producers in the world are cooperating to effectively address the declining international price for the commodity, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has disclosed.
Both nations, the President said, have decided to ensure that they would not be pawns or victims of a global cocoa industry that was dependent on the work of farmers.
President Akufo-Addo made the disclosure at this year’s World Cocoa Day celebration, at the Jubilee Park, in Kumasi, an event which coincided with the 70th anniversary celebration of the establishment of the Ghana Cocoa Board.
The President said since his assumption of office, he had worked with President Alassane Outtara of Cote d’Ivoire, to provide the necessary leadership for technical and political co-operation that would effectively address the international cocoa price decline in the short-to-medium term.
“We are fashioning far reaching policies towards achieving a shared vision of an industrialised and prosperous domestic cocoa economy. This, I am sure, will reduce our vulnerability to the volatility of the markets and help deliver prosperity to our farmers and peoples,” the President added.
President Akufo-Addo bemoaned the fact that the fortunes of Ghanaian farmers, unfortunately, have become tied to the volatile cocoa bean market, a situation that presented a threat to the production of the commodity.
He said despite the over 40 per cent drop in world cocoa prices, government would ensure that farmers are not short-changed in the price review for the coming season.
“Indeed, government will make sure that producer prices paid to Ghanaian cocoa farmers remain unchanged, and will be in sync with those of Ivorian farmers.
“Government is also working on the cocoa pension scheme for cocoa farmers, the first of its kind in our history. This will not only benefit cocoa farmers, but all involved in the cocoa value chain,” the President said.
President Akufo-Addo was not happy that farmers in both countries, whose toil produced over 60 per cent of the worlds cocoa, earned only 5.7 per cent of the global value of their activity, which was a little over $100 billion in 2015.
“This cannot, and should not continue. It is manifest injustice. We have to devise ways of ensuring that our farmers reap much greater value from their toil,” he said.
To this end, the President revealed that he has, amongst other measures, directed the Minister of Food and Agriculture to direct COCOBOD to work towards increasing domestic processing of cocoa up from the current levels to a minimum of 50 per cent of annual production by 2020.
This, he stressed, would significantly increase export revenues and foreign exchange earnings from cocoa.
“Processing of cocoa must also go beyond just grinding of the beans, to tertiary manufacturing for table consumption. Chocolate and cocoa products from Ghana should be accessible anywhere on the globe,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo said as part of the One-District-One-Factory programme, COCOBOD, and other private sector actors, are instituting programmes that would create small-scale cocoa processing industries across the cocoa-growing districts of the country.
“The export market, nonetheless, must not be the sole focus for increasing the processing of our cocoa. The health benefits of cocoa are enormous. Ghana produces the best cocoa, which has strong nutritional value, and it is time that our consumption increases in our own backyard,” he noted.
With current per-capita consumption of cocoa in Ghana standing at 0.5 kilogramme, President Akufo-Addo urged Ghanaians to increase their consumption of cocoa to enable the country to attain a significant level of self-reliance to promote industrialisation and provide adequate cushion against the adverse effects of price shocks.
“We are an oil producing nation, but I can assure you that it will not be under my watch that Ghana will be struck with the ‘Dutch Disease’. Despite the growth in importance of oil and gas in our economy, we will proceed with our plans of building a world class cocoa industry, which will be the envy and toast of the world,” he assured.