Ghana is considering an expansion of their global cocoa operations through a partnership with Dubai, in which a cocoa trading platform would be established, allowing Ghana to extend their cocoa offering to both Western and Arab markets.
Ghana’s current cocoa products are not certified by the US Food and Drugs Authority (FDA). This means that despite being the second largest global producers of cocoa, they are only able to contribute raw cocoa beans to some markets, which pay far less than finished cocoa products.
By partnering with The Dubai Agric Commodities of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), an internationally certified processing facility, Ghana’s cocoa products could enter the US and European markets.
Analysts estimate that Ghana’s current annual earnings from the commodity could rise from $2.5 billion to $10 billion as a result of the move, although it should be noted that earnings are not the same as profit. If the deal takes place, Ghana will no longer be limited to exporting raw cocoa beans, but instead would be able to have their finished chocolate products processed and packaged for a global market.
The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto and the Director of The Dubai Agric Commodities, Saeed Al Suwaidi exchanged visits to further discussions around the potential partnership.
We are on the brink of a major breakthrough in the traditional way that we sell our cocoa and other commodities,” stated Dr Akoto. “What I saw in Dubai is a facility which goes from A to Z on the value chain.
Likewise, Mr Suwaidi told the Daily Graphic (an online Ghana news site) that he was in Ghana on the invitation of Dr Akoto to review opportunities for bringing cocoa products into the facility, which currently handled tea and coffee. He explained:
We are looking at opening a centre for cocoa in Dubai, using the same winning formula that we use for coffee and tea.” Adding that despite the UAE not producing tea locally, they currently “produce 500 million tea bags annually.Saeed Al Suwaidi, Director of The Dubai Agric Commodities
If the deal goes through, it could have a significant impact on how Ghana uses its top commodity. The country, which produces around 800,000 tonnes of cocoa annually, receives only pittance from the global market, according to Dr Akoto. The minister believes that such a partnership with Dubai would open the door to new opportunities and “make sure that that stranglehold is released”.
With Ghana producing such a large share of the world’s cocoa, this is an important development in the evolution of Ghana up the value chain. If successful, it could become a blueprint for other countries to follow suit.