The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), Yofi Grant, has said that it’s time the state pulls together players in the cocoa value chain to create indigenous billionaires from the commodity.
According to him, it is unacceptable that after many years of being among the first two major producers of the commodity in the world, the country cannot boast wealthy Ghanaians born out of the production, processing and marketing of cocoa.
Speaking at the maiden Cocoa Value Chain Investment Meeting, co-hosted by The Gauteng Growth and Development Agency Gauteng Growth and also under the auspices of the GIPC, Mr. Grant said after a century it’s time the indigenous cocoa business is taken to a higher pedestal.
“We labour to find one millionaire from a crop that has developed the whole country; this poses a certain missing link that shows despite the crop’s importance, we have not monetised it in a very domestic and indigenous way as we should.
“Cocoa generates roughly US$2billion annually in foreign exchange, and continues to play an important role in Ghana’s economy as a major contributor to government revenue. The industry employs approximately 800,000 farming families and has grossly expanded economic activities in rural communities in Ghana. But as I said. we still have not created a millionaire from this enterprise,” Mr. Grant bemoaned.
He noted that until there is a concerted effort geared at supporting value addition to the cocoa beans and creating a product that will compete on the international market, it will be difficult for individuals to monetise the commodity to facilitate the creation of wealthy citizens.
Mr. Grant opined that the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) offers a fine platform for players in the artisanal cocoa sector to escalate their operation. For him, if businesses through the AfCFTA can take their products to other markets on the continent and compete favourably, it would serve as a catalyst and encouragement to move into Europe and other continents.
Despite the immense contribution of cocoa as a commodity, the problem of how to achieve ‘cocoa value addition’ has lingered for years. Successive governments have made it a national goal to enhance earnings from the industry and optimise the vast potential of the cocoa value chain.
To Mr. Grant, the volatility of cocoa prices on the international market makes it imperative for industry players to add value to their cocoa produce. He added that Ghana is open to inviting more investors into the industry, and there is a concerted effort to partner investors seeking to industrialise the cocoa sector and add value to cocoa beans.
COCOBOD equally stressed the need for multi-stakeholder partnerships in advancing the cocoa industry. It is seeking joint efforts for planting and harvesting, purchase collection and bagging, haulage, partial warehousing, pest and disease control, research and development, external marketing, quality assurance and processing. GIPC hopes that its cocoa value chain investment meeting will encourage business-to-business engagements between local and foreign industry players in upscaling the sector.
The maiden GIPC cocoa value chain investment meeting, titled ‘Ghana’s Brown Gold: Sustaining Investments and Leveraging AfCFTA’, also focused on investment opportunities in the cocoa industry and its entire value chain. It also sensitised industry players to valuable commercial opportunities offered by the AfCFTA.
With leading stakeholders such as Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), the Cocoa Value Addition Artisans Association of Ghana (COVAAAGH) and Niche Cocoa Industry Ltd., the deliberations centred on policy interventions being rolled out by government to foster growth in the sector, and how the cocoa business can be further enhanced.