COCOBOD has cautioned Ghanaian artisanal chocolate manufacturers to desist from buying raw cocoa beans directly from farmers. The state cocoa regulator indicated that such actions are illegal and could have dire consequences for perpetrators.
COCOBOD insists that small-scale chocolate producers buy from its approved and sanctioned channels and warehouses to ensure the beans have gone through the right testing processes and are of premium and healthy quality for consumption. Buying directly from the farmer poses many risks including compromise on quality and the possibly unhealthy nature of such beans.
Deputy Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, Dr. Emmanuel Opoku, speaking to B&FT at the 2nd African Cocoa and Chocolate Expo (ACCE) in Accra said the COCOBOD has in its quest to provide a solution to the illegitimate activity begun processes to establish a unit where artisanal chocolate companies can buy their cocoa beans.
According to Dr. Opoku, the minimum quantity COCOBOD sells is a tonne of beans; but data show that the biggest artisanal local chocolate maker in Ghana buys less than a tonne for chocolate production. In order to satisfy artisanal processors, COCOBOD is set to establish a new unit to cater for them.
“We want to have a unit or a small area where the artisanal chocolate manufacturers can go to purchase the beans. That should be concluded by end of year or early 2022, because if COCOBOD is to go by its rules artisanal chocolatiers will not be able to access the standardised beans,” Dr. Opoku said.
Being a major exporter of cocoa beans, it is expected that the country translates that into the status of a top exporter of processed cocoa products like chocolates. But it is quite the opposite, as more than 80 percent of the cocoa produced in Ghana is exported in its raw state.
But COCOBOD has emphasised that it is committed to ensuring local cocoa processors expand their operations in order to increase the processing capacity of artisanal chocolate makers. “We will sell the cocoa to local manufacturers and processors, but through the right and legal means so that the artisanal industry can expand in the country’s interests,” Dr. Opoku emphasised.
The second African Cocoa & Chocolate Expo (ACCE) 2021 was a hybrid three-day event of discussions, debates, exhibitions and networking opportunities. Hosted by the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) and Know Your Cocoa Foundation (KYC), the theme this year is ‘Africa beyond Beans’ – with an awareness of attracting a new ‘generation of cocoapreneurs’ into the industry.
GEPA’s CEO, Dr. Afua Asabea Asare, said the authority is committed to ensuring an increase in the export of cocoa products. She said the ongoing implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) has further boosted GEPA’s impetus to call for increased exports from entrepreneurs while improving processes to ensure seamless export trade by Ghanaians.
“The very essence of encouraging local exporters is establishing the GEPA Impact Hub to provide trade information, in order to lessen the burden of exporters in regard to international trade,” Dr. Asare noted.
Nana Aduna II, Director of the ACCE and KYC, explained that it has become important for state actors to continue encouraging entrepreneurs, change-makers, experts and key stakeholders in the cocoa value chain to find innovative ways of generating opportunities for investment and technological advancement in cocoa farming, processing, distribution and retail.
This year’s ACCE showcased numerous achievements and innovations by bringing together industry leaders, participants and interested visitors for knowledge-sharing, networking and dialogue.