Mr. Joseph Boahen Aidoo, CEO of Ghana Cocoa Board (CCOBOD), has said more work is needed to be done toward securing a medium- to long-term syndication facility worth US$600million to embark on transformation of the entire cocoa industry.
He said the annual syndicated facility has always been used to buy cocoa beans from farmers, and it is prudent to seek funding from other sources to re-engineer the farms in order to shore-up production.
Mr. Aidoo said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, on the sidelines of a boardroom session as part of the Africa Investment Forum (AIF) in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The AIF is a totally transactional platform dedicated to advancing projects to bankable stages, raising capital, and accelerating the financial closure of deals, and is organised by the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group.
He said the facility’s availability dovetails into management’s strategy to rehabilitate old farms, diseased trees and create irrigation systems for cocoa farms as well as timeous application of hand-pollination.
“The target is to increase production from the current 15 bags per acre to 30 bags, maximising land for increased yields expected in the next three years; and the loan was needed to construct warehouses for storing the commodity.”
The COCOBOD CEO said another target is to develop the local processing landscape with a national capacity of 450,000 metric tonnes – “But we are currently processing about 220,000 metric tonnes.”
He said there is need to scale-up and support local entrepreneurs in the commodity value-chain, and expand existing factories.
He said production within the next three-to-five years is expected to hit 1.3 – 1.5 million metric tonnes in order that export values are increased and the beans processed into cocoa drinks and chocolate for consumption by schoolchildren and the general public, as directed by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
Mr. Aidoo said affirmation for signing the facility agreement by AfDB – the facility’s arranger, is expected by December this year, so by February next year the cash will be available for these projects.
He said management of COCOBOD will roll-out a strategy for continuous mass cocoa spraying, and extend that to an exercise of pruning and spraying of cashew plantations to shore-up production of the two commodities.
He predicted that demand for cocoa will continue to be high, even in hundred years to come: saying, “Management of COCOBOD is strategically repositioning itself to begin considering planning toward the next 30 – 50 years from now, and laying the right tactics toward addressing and achieving both local and foreign expectations.