The Cocoa Value Addition Artisans Association of Ghana (COVAAAGH) has charged COCOBOD to look beyond just establishing a new unit for artisanal cocoa manufacturers and implementing stringent policies if they want to deter artisanal processors from purchasing beans directly from farmers.
In an exclusive interview with the Vice President of COVAAAGH, Ida Dela Kuekey, on the announcement by COCOBOD about establishing a small unit to sell beans to artisanal processors, she welcomed any effort to improve the processing industry but stressed that the unit alone is not enough.
“The issue of buying cocoa beans directly from farmers will undermine efforts of the board in developing the quality standards of cocoa for local and international markets. However, more needs to be done to stop this practice.
“It is not only a matter of legislation, since any small-scale processor can also establish a cocoa farm for the purpose of using the beans for products by his/her own firm. This individual can also pursue quality standards acceptable to his/her clients. Where stands the legislation to buy only from the board?” Ms. Kuekey told the B&FT.
She further stated that supporting the artisanal and value addition sector should be of prime concern to policymakers in the industry, illuminating that the future of Ghana’s cocoa lies in the artisanal and value addition sector’s hands.
COCOBOD’s new unit
In its quest to ensure that artisanal cocoa processors are given the opportunity to purchase less than a tonne of cocoa beans without compromising the quality of these cocoa beans, the Ghana COCOBOD has begun processes to establish a new unit where artisanal chocolate processors can buy cocoa beans.
According to the Board, the minimum quantity COCOBOD sells is a tonne of beans; however, data show that the biggest artisanal chocolate makers in Ghana buy less than a tonne for chocolate production, thus driving artisanal cocoa manufacturers to buy cocoa beans directly from cocoa bean farmers. The unit is set to complete in the next year, 2022.
Low profile in the local market
Despite government’s commitment to ensuring that local processors expand their operations and increase the processing capacity of artisanal chocolate makers, Ms. Kuekey noted that the sector is still challenged – preventing local artisanal products from dominating the market.
She proffered that government should initiate a policy to improve the low consumption rate in the local market, adding that a new policy should also be crafted to exempt local manufacturers from paying huge taxes.