Ghana’s cocoa regulator, COCOBOD has met with a Swiss delegation to discuss how the two countries can work together in redefining the previous model, under which, Ghana was largely a supplier of raw beans to the EU.
President Nana Akufo Addo, disrupted the status quo when last year he announced Ghana’s Intent to cease the majority of exports of raw materials from the country and to focus instead on building internal processing capacity. Currently, around 80% of the crop is exported in its raw form.
Capacity, though, is the active word in this narrative, because despite having a number of factories, the productivity levels are still low.
On my own trips to Ghana in the past, I witnessed multimillion-dollar factories sitting idle. I never really discovered the reasons why the equipment was left to rust, and the situation may well be different now.
However, most analysts agree that Ghana will face a number of challenges in raising productivity levels, along with quality, to a point where it makes a material difference to the country’s exports.
The chief executive of COCOBOD, Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, previously stated their intention to increase processing within the country to 50% or more. This is an ambitious goal, and we should respect the determination of the country to improve their position and that of their farmers, in respect of the overall value chain.
It’s not clear what the terms of the public-private partnership would look like, and therefore how attractive it may be to Swiss chocolate companies, but Ghana hopes the relationship can go beyond cooperation with building factories and to assist in improving farm management and sustainability practices.
There is also the question of how much value, processing of local beans into semi-finished products, will add to the country. How, also, will that added value trickle down to the farmers, or will the farmer equation have to change as a result?