The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, says the two largest producers of cocoa in the world, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, have now decided to co-operate in ensuring that they do not continue to be victims or pawns of a global cocoa industry that is dependent on the work of their farmers.

It is for this reason, according to President Akufo-Addo, that, since his assumption of office in January 2017, he has worked with President Alassane Outtara of Cote d’Ivoire, to provide the necessary leadership for technical and political co-operation that addresses effectively the international cocoa price decline in the short-to-medium term.

“We are fashioning far reaching policies towards achieving a shared vision of an industrialised and prosperous domestic cocoa economy. This, I am sure, will reduce our vulnerability to the volatility of the markets, and help deliver prosperity to our farmers and peoples,” the President added.

President Akufo-Addo made this known on Monday, 2nd October, 2017, when he delivered a speech at this year’s World Cocoa Day celebration, at the Jubilee Park, in Kumasi, an event which coincided with the 70th anniversary celebration of the establishment of the Ghana Cocoa Board.

With price volatilities on the international cocoa market representing, perhaps, the biggest threat to cocoa producers, President Akufo-Addo bemoaned the fact that the fortunes of Ghanaian farmers, unfortunately, have become tied to the volatile cocoa bean market.

Nonetheless, and in spite of the over 40% drop in world cocoa prices, President Akufo-Addo stated that his government will ensure that the price review for the coming season will not leave farmers short-changed.

“Indeed, government will make sure that producer prices paid to Ghanaian cocoa farmers remain unchanged, and will be in sync with those of Ivorian farmers,” he said.

Government, the President added, “is also working on the cocoa pension scheme for cocoa farmers, the first of its kind in our history. This will not only benefit cocoa farmers, but all involved in the cocoa value chain.”

Again, with Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire accounting for more than 60% of the world’s cocoa output, and yet earning, together, some $5.75 billion out of the sale of cocoa beans, President Akufo-Addo lamented that “the farmers whose toil and sweat produced 60% plus of the world’s cocoa, earned 5.75% of the global value of their activity”, which was a little over $100 billion in 2015.

“This cannot, and should not continue. It is manifest injustice. We have to devise ways of ensuring that our farmers reap much greater value from their toil,” he said.

To this end, the President revealed that he has, amongst other measures, directed the Minister for Food and Agriculture to direct COCOBOD to work towards increasing domestic processing of cocoa up from the current levels to a minimum of 50% of annual production by 2020.

This, he stressed, will significantly increase export revenues and foreign exchange earnings from cocoa.

“Processing of cocoa must also go beyond just grinding of the beans, to tertiary manufacturing for table consumption. Chocolate and cocoa products from Ghana should be accessible anywhere on the globe,” he said.

As part of the 1-District-1-Factory programme, COCOBOD, and other private sector actors, according to President Akufo-Addo, will roll-out programmes that create small-scale cocoa processing industries across the cocoa-growing districts of our country.

“The export market, nonetheless, must not be the sole focus for increasing the processing of our cocoa. The health benefits of cocoa are enormous. Ghana produces the best cocoa, which has strong nutritional value, and it is time that our consumption increases in our own backyard,” President

With current per-capita consumption of cocoa in Ghana standing at 0.5 kilogramme, the President stated that this should increase to one kilogramme per Ghanaian in the short-to-medium term, and should begin with inculcating the habit of consuming cocoa in Ghanaian children.

Through a programme being instituted by the Ministry of Agriculture through COCOBOD, the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection through the School Feeding Programme, and the Ministry of Education, President Akufo-Addo noted that the target is to ensure the sustained provision of cocoa beverages and chocolates to school children, from primary school up to secondary level.

Also, the Ministry of Tourism, in its programmes to boost tourism, has also rolled out campaigns to incorporate the promotion of Ghanaian cocoa products.

President Akufo-Addo was confident that these measures will enable the country attain a significant level of self-reliance, promote industrialisation and provide adequate cushion against the adverse effects of price shocks.

“We are an oil producing nation, but I can assure you that it will not be under my watch that Ghana will be struck with the ‘Dutch Disease’. Despite the growth in importance of oil and gas in our economy, we will proceed with our plans of building a world class cocoa industry, which will be the envy and toast of the world,” he assured.