Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, Minister of Information, Tuesday launched this year’s National Chocolate Week celebration, with a call for the country to focus on processing more cocoa beans locally.
That, he said was a sure way to increasing the country’s chances of raking in substantially from the over USD150 billion revenues accrued from the global chocolate confectionery industry annually.
He also called on all to rally around the cocoa consumption promotion agenda and see it as a national duty.
The Minister said the core purpose of the celebration was to promote local consumption of chocolate and other cocoa-based products by creating opportunities for cocoa processing and value addition companies as well as chocolatiers to
showcase their products.
Mr Oppong Nkrumah said the theme for the celebration, “Eat Chocolate, stay healthy Grow Ghana”, resonated well among the citizenry and had become the unique selling message, driving the collective resolve to make Ghana not only the
leading producer of premium quality cocoa, but also a global leader in cocoa processing and consumption.
He said a few years ago, Ghana started a journey to increase its annual cocoa production and incrementally regainrd the number one position in global cocoa production.
“We have made significant progress with hundreds of thousands of hectares of cocoa farms rehabilitated across the country. The magic of the high yielding and early bearing cocoa seedlings used for this exercise only implies that some of the rehabilitated farms have started bearing and soon, the national production figures will attest to the success of this exercise.”
Mr Oppong Nkrumah noted that other interventions had also been very instrumental in increasing productivity, thereby keeping the annual production outputs relatively stable even amid the massive rehabilitation process.
“The last three years have seen stakeholders become more aggressive in our agenda to increase local processing and consumption.
“We have sustainably rolled out programmes to gradually enhance the country’s per capita consumption of cocoa from just half a kilogramme in 2017 to nearly 1.0kg as at now. Our processing feat currently hovers around 43 per cent, following the continued support of government.”
He said it was expected that the recent progress would be stimulating the habit of consuming cocoa not only within Ghana, but also in the African region and beyond.
The Minister commended all stakeholders for their contribution in various ways towards the National Cocoa Consumption Campaign.
“We do not want to be complacent with this achievement, given the fact that elsewhere in Europe and America, the per capita consumption ranges between 7kg to 11kg.”
He assured partners and international stakeholders that programmes and policies within the cocoa sector were such that Ghana’s cocoa production was done in the confines of socially responsible and environmentally acceptable standards.
“We have been working to constantly protect the environment, improve afforestation and ensure that all children of school going age have the opportunity to benefit from quality education.”
The Information Minister noted that for the celebrations this year, there were new twists to offering the citizenry the opportunity of accessing the full benefits of consuming cocoa and its related products.
“The Chocolate City at the Tetteh Quarshie Interchange continues to provide one-stop shopping centre for all who would need chocolate confectioneries to give to their loved ones within the period of the celebration.
“We have also received assurance from the processors and chocolatiers that they will make chocolate and other cocoa products available in all regions across the country for the benefits of the consuming public.”
Mr Mac Manu, Board Chairman, Ghana Cocoa Board, said the Board was particularly interested in moving the country beyond the leading producer of premium cocoa beans globally to the leading processor and consumer of premium cocoa.
He said they had introduced policies and liaised with various key stakeholders to create a conducive environment for cocoa processing, especially for small-scale producers.
“While pushing for avenues for increased local processing, we also have the duty to help build a reliable market base locally for our processors, which makes the celebration of the Chocolate Week Celebration even more important.”
Mr Manu encouraged stakeholders to see the success of this year’s National Chocolate Week Celebration as a critical national assignment, and urged Ghanaians to actively promote and participate in the various programme of activities lined up for the celebration.
Programmes lined up for the celebration include health walk, family day out and variety show at the Chocolate City, church visitations, time with school children, meeting moments across the regions, couples’ night out, and donations.