In June 1938 the Gold Coast Department of Agriculture established the Central Cocoa Research Station at Tafo to investigate problems of diseases and pests which had considerably reduced cocoa production in the Eastern Province. In 1944 it became the West African Cocoa Research Institute (WACRI) with a sub-station in Ibadan, Nigeria, and some research activities undertaken in Sierra Leone.
After the attainment of independence by Ghana and Nigeria, WACRI was dissolved, and the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) and the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN) were formed in its place. CRIG was administered by the National Research Council, which was later superseded by the Ghana Academy of Sciences and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
The objectives of the Institute were subsequently expanded to include research on other indigenous and introduced tree crops that produced fats similar to cocoa butter.
CRIG won the privilege of being the research wing of the National Cashew Development Project in 2002, and cashew has since become a mandate crop of CRIG.