Quality of cocoa beans key to sector growth

Quality of cocoa beans key to sector growth
MD of Cocoa Merchants, Alhaji Abdul Fataa Adamu, right, being presented with the cheque for premium payment

Cocoa farmers have been urged to desist from practices which could compromise the quality of cocoa produce.

This is in view of the fact that distinctiveness of the Ghana-produced beans is second to none and key to growth of the local economy.

Ghana is recognised as one of the commodity’s top producers globally, with the quality of its beans being a benchmark for many producing countries.

With a number of programmes periodically introduced to enhance cocoa production by government and stakeholders in the cocoa industry, farmers are being advised to also endeavour to maintain or improve quality of the produce.

The District Officer of the Quality Control Company of the Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod) for Ofoase-Juaso in the Ashanti Region, Mr. Robert Adu, observed for instance that the processes involved in drying cocoa beans contribute to improving their quality.

Against this background, while encouraging farmers to ensure that the beans are thoroughly dried for 6 days, he said steps should also be taken to remove any objects which might be mixed up with the beans.

He said this should be done to complement efforts at ensuring that Ghana’s cocoa exports always meet the standards and expectations of buyers on the international market.

“Let us ensure that the quality of our commodity that gives us privileged status over the exports of other countries is always maintained or improved,” he stated.

Mr. Adu was addressing a gathering of cocoa farmers during the 2020/21 premium launch for farmers under the Beyond Beans Foundation/Merchants Sustainable Cocoa Programme, and acknowledge the work of cocoa farmers in the Municipality.

The Managing Director of Cocoa Merchants Ghana Limited, Alhaji Abdul Fataa Adamu, noted that consumers’ concerns about social, environmental and economic issues in the cocoa supply chain, among others, have shaped several initiatives of producers.

He said: “Processors wanted to avoid the risk of quality loss and supply shortfalls”.

“At the initial stage, cocoa certification was the tool used to drive this move, and it is still an important tool today.”

Currently, other tools and initiatives such as the Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS), Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA), Gender Action and Learning Systems (GALS), FarmGrow, Cocoa Action, among others, are being employed as add-ons to Cocoa Certification to help achieve a more sustainable cocoa sector.

In this regard, Cocoa Merchant has since 2013 pursued sustainable cocoa programmes with the overall goal of improving farmer incomes, protecting children and preserving forests.

“To achieve these, we implemented Rainforest Alliance certification standards and other new initiatives for the value-added market.”

It was due to these efforts that Ferrero through Beyond Beans Foundation adopted Cocoa Merchants’ Konongo, Juaso and Agona Duakwa districts to produce and deliver good quality Rainforest Alliance-certified cocoa beans.

The number of farmers participating in the programmes of these districts has increased from 1,500 in the 2018/2019 season to 4,025 in the current 2020/2021 season.

These farmers were taken through training and subsequently became Rainforest Alliance-certified, due to which Ferrero through Beyond Beans Foundation purchased 5,500 metric tonnes of cocoa during the just-ended main crop season.

The purchases translate to 88,000 bags of cocoa beans, in view of which Ferrero through Beyond Beans Foundation presented a cheque of GH₵1,320,000. This means premium per bag of Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa beans is GH₵15.

Alhaji Fataa Adamu also disclosed that Cocoa Merchant’s ongoing project has intensified its CLMRS programme, whereas it has successfully piloted the Farm Development Plan (FDP) and Shade Tree Registration.

So far, some 200,000 cocoa seedlings and 35,320 shade trees have been raised and distributed to farmers in Konongo and Juaso, he added.

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