The Minister of Information Kojo Oppong Nkrumah is advocating for the processing and consumption of more cocoa locally to boost the sector.
Delivering the keynote address at the launch of this year’s national chocolate week celebrations in Accra on Tuesday (7 February), Nkrumah said while continuing with efforts to boost domestic production of cocoa, it is important to take advantage of this year’s celebration to step up efforts to increase processing of cocoa locally.
“One of the ways to do this is to guarantee the light crop for the local producers so that they do not have to buy the main crop for domestic processing,” he said. “As we know, the main crop is comparatively more expensive. If we are serious about boosting local production then we must move quickly to ensure that local processors are able to fully meet their bean needs from the light crop.”
Nkrumah charged COCOBOD to use policy instruments to ensure that financing support is provided for domestic processors.
“The financial sector should be incentivised to provide financing for the domestic processors using the cocoa beans as security and escrowing into an account of the off-takers. The challenge of financing domestic processors will be lightened via this channel,” he added.
He said although the incentives offered by the Ghana Free Zones Authority are endearing enough to attract more domestic processors, they are not well known. These incentives should be better highlighted by the Freezones Authority and COCOBOD to attract more processors to set up in the freezones area and then process.
On the matter of stimulating domestic consumption of cocoa products, Nkrumah suggested the following: “We need to promote more chocolatiers to join the value chain. The more domestic chocolatiers and nuanced products there are on the local market, the better our chances of deepening the local taste and demand. The red carpet of incentives as we would give a foreign direct investor should be rolled out for local chocolatiers as well.”
He added: “The 35% tax on butter and liquor (raw materials for chocolatiers) should be re-considered. This will make it less expensive to finance operations. It will also make the final products more affordable on the market.
“And finally we should support initiatives across Africa to stimulate consumption among school children. Sectors of our economy making super profits can be encouraged to finance such initiatives which will serve as an investment for the growth of a future market in Africa for our cocoa.”
The core purpose of the chocolate week celebration is to promote local consumption of chocolate and other cocoa-based products among others.
The Information Minister who is also the MP for Ofoase Ayirebi praised stakeholders on the cocoa value chain for their respective roles in working to build a robust cocoa economy.
The national chocolate day celebration was instituted in 2005 to coincide with Valentine’s Day which falls on 14th February every year to boost the domestic consumption of Ghana chocolate and other cocoa-based products among others. What used to be a day celebration, was transformed into a week-long celebration in 2022 due to the numerous benefits the country stands to gain if the cocoa industry is nationally promoted.