Time to shift away from cocoa export to local consumption – Prof. Owusu
He said current and past governments had worked to ensure a good sale value for cocoa on the international market at the expense of local use.
Professor Owusu said, “We need to consume what we produce. We need to ensure that locally, we consume cocoa. Cocoa has lots of health benefits.”
He was delivering a lecture on the topic: COCOBOD @75: Sustaining Our Environment, Wealth and Health.”
The occasion was also used to launch the 2022 Cocoa Day, which is slated for October 1.
He suggested that cocoa be used more regularly in the preparation of local dishes and called for efforts to develop local cocoa diets that would ensure local consumption of the crop.
Regarding the consumption of chocolate products, he admitted that pricing concerns had largely deterred the citizenry from regularly consuming made-in-Ghana chocolate products, thus accounting for the almost rapt focus on export of cocoa beans to the processing factories in the West.
He also called for the New Products Unit of the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) to be better resourced to bring new approaches to the production and value addition of cocoa in the country.
He emphasised research as key to the development of the cocoa sub-sector and pointed to the development of early and high yielding, and pest resistant varieties of the cash crop, which came about due to years of research.
Professor Oduro Owusu called for more efforts to be made to “curb the unwarranted destruction of lands and the environment” especially in cocoa growing areas, where the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) recently reported that about 19,000 hectares of cocoa farms had been destroyed due to the activities of illegal gold miners.
“I find it very hard to understand why as a nation, we cannot be united to fight ‘evils’ that threaten the future of our dear country.”
He warned that if nothing concrete was done about the danger of illegal mining, the country might soon depend on the imports of food and potable water.
He said, “polluted water bodies, destroyed aquatic lives as well as shrink pathways of water bodies are matters that may cost us so much as a nation.”
Besides this danger to our water and land, he also cautioned that due to the presence of heavy metals like mercury in the soil from the illegal mining activities, it was becoming difficult for Ghana’s cocoa to pass the heavy metals test when shipped to other jurisdictions.
He thus urged scientists at CRIG to research into how long it would take for the destroyed lands to be restored to their original states.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Yaw Frimpong Addo, who represented Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto at the event, noted that the theme of the lecture, ‘COCOBOD @75: Sustaining our environment, wealth and health,’ epitomises the government’s policy direction for the cocoa sector “by securing sustainable farming practices alongside boosting domestic cocoa production.”
He said interventions in the sector, such as hand pollination, rehabilitation of cocoa farms, pruning and the supply of farming inputs had positively influenced production patterns.
He stated that work on the COCOBOD Cocoa Management System, a database of all farmers in the country, was near completion with the data about 664, 529 farmers so far captured unto it.
This, he said, would make it easy for the implementation of the Cocoa Farmers’ Pension Scheme.
He commended the various players in the cocoa sector as well as all those who were at the helm of affairs at COCOBOD since its establishment 75 years ago.
Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, on his part stated that “making the cocoa industry more vibrant requires that cocoa farmers are better remunerated.”
This, he explained, was the motivation behind the 29% increase in the producer price of cocoa from GH¢8,240 to GH¢10,560.
He indicated that the Board and Management of COCOBOD have resolved to reduce the debt burden drastically, by adopting austerity measures, due to the ongoing ravages of COVID-19, which had led to decreased demand for cocoa around the world.
According to the CEO, the Living Income Differential remained the best pricing mechanism to regulate cocoa prices and cushion the farmers against cocoa price volatility.
Meanwhile, the Ghana Cocoa Day Celebrations will be held at the Presbyterian Boys’ Senior High School (SHS) at Suhum in the Eastern Region.
The programme of activities includes a simultaneous walk by staff of COCOBOD on Saturday, September 24, in Accra, Tema, Kumasi and Takoradi.
On Wednesday, September 28, there will be a float at Suhum and an exhibition by cocoa and chocolate producers, as well as agrochemical and input suppliers, financial institutions and NGOs on the Suhum SHS school park.
A forum on sustainable cocoa production as well as a cocoa quiz competition will be held on Thursday, September 29.
There will be a football competition among some four selected schools from the Eastern Region on Friday, September 30 at the Suhum School Park. This will be followed by a ‘Cocoa Night Concert.’
As the climax to the 75th Anniversary celebrations, there will be a grand durbar at Suhum Presbyterian SHS Park on Saturday, October 1.