Ghana and China are in talks to establish a 450,000 metric tonne cocoa processing factory to boost the country’s cocoa crop production sector.

The factory, to be constructed at a cost of US$60million, will be located in Sefwi Wiawso in the Western Region. It will be partly funded by the Chinese government with a US$35million grant, while Ghana takes up the remaining cost.

The factory will boost the country’s exports, improve value addition and cocoa consumption locally. Upon completion, the factory is expected to turn about 450,000 metric tonnes of cocoa beans annually into butter, liquor and down to the tertiary level which is the production of chocolate, said Chief Executive of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) Joseph Boahen Aidoo at a ceremony to announce the partnership agreement between COCOBOD and the government of China.

“We envisage improving on the productivity of cocoa in the country, and in anticipation of likely increased production we will certainly need more factories so construction of the Sefwi-Wiaso factory is very timely,” Mr. Aidoo said.

He indicated that the next step in the project will depend on the outcome of feasibility studies, adding that the site for the project has been secured. An eight-member team from China is currently in the country to conduct feasibility studies at the site in Sefwi Wiaso.

Ghana currently has 450,000 metric tonnes installed capacity, but only about 250,000 metric tonnes is being processed.

“Establishment of the factory is very significant as there is a rising consumption pattern for chocolate in the Asian countries, particularly India and China. Cocobod’s objective is to enter the Asian market, focusing essentially on China.

“So, the Chinese government’s acceptance to partner with Ghana’s government to put up this factory is actually a major step in realising our objective and vision of expanding the scope of cocoa consumption – and also in realising the president’s vision that in the next four to five years Ghana should be able to process not less than fifty percent of our cocoa beans here in Ghana,” he said.

Meanwhile, Cocobod is seeking US$1.5billion from China’s Eximbank to rehabilitate aged farms and install irrigation systems and other projects.

B&FT has gathered that the Cocobod is vigorously exploring prospects in the Chinese market for the country’s premium cocoa products, for which reason meetings have been ongoing between the two sides.

Cocobod also plans to make a good showing at the maiden China International Import Exposition, to be held in Shanghai from November 5, 2018 to November 10, 2018.

“A team from the Cocobod has already met officials at the Chinese Embassy; we have, again, met in Accra and our officers have started putting things together – and it is because Cocobod wants to enter and explore the huge Chinese market for cocoa products,” Noah Kwesi Amenyah, Cocobod’s Public Affairs Manager told the B&FT.

“We want to send into that market value-added cocoa products and not just raw beans; it will be good for us to get the Chinese public to know that Ghana’s cocoa is the best and has a lot of nutritional and health benefits, and therefore they have to patronise it,” he said.

Although China’s individual chocolate consumption is considered still low – less than 5% of what major lovers munch in the west, market research firm Ebrun reports that the market for chocolate in China is expected to grow in value to 40 billion yuan (US$6.2billion) by 2020.

Ghana’s main export destinations are the Netherlands with a market share of 12.88%, France-11.6%, and USA-10.9%.

France and the USA grew significantly during 2012-2016. Exports to France, especially, reached high growth rates. With an average annual growth of +23% over 2012-2016, the country became the second-largest Ghanaian export destination.

Exports to Spain and Belgium remained quite stable during 2012-2016, with export values between US$5-40million.

Total exports of cocoa products from Ghana amounted US$542million in 2016.
Exports to the Dutch market dropped from US$205million in 2012 to only US$70million in 2016 – a decrease of 24% on average per year.

Ghana’s exports to China, on the other hand, are dominated by traditional or primary exports such as unprocessed cocoa, raw metals, wood products and petroleum oils, which account for 96 percent of exports to the Asian nation, statistics from the Ministry of Trade show. The Economic and Commercial Counsellor at the Chinese Embassy, Mr. Chai Zhijing, recounted the longstanding relations between Ghana and China in terms of trade and other businesses.

According to him, the trade for a total volume of import and export between Ghana and China was US$6.6billion last year – with China’s export at US$4.8billion and the import from Ghana at around US$1.8billion.

He said the team is currently undertaking feasibility studies and will work out details for the Chinese government for the project to commence, adding that the project will boost China’s consumption of cocoa from Ghana. The Chinese, as part of the visit, will also tour some cocoa-growing communities.

2 sign agreement to improve cocoa

The World Cocoa Foundation and Ghana Cocoa Board have announced plans to expand their joint efforts to preserve the historic flavour of the country’s cocoa.

An agreement signed by the two parties lays out new investments over a four-year period (2018 – 2021) under the World Cocoa Foundation’s African Cocoa Initiative. It provides for continued flavour quality research and training of Ghanaian cocoa farmers in harvest and post-harvest best practices that can affect cocoa flavour.

Under terms of the agreement, the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) Sensory Lab will benefit from larger-scale cocoa processing equipment and ongoing training and interactions with flavour quality consultants to improve cocoa and chocolate samples. CRIG will expand its cocoa sensory panel and incorporate regular testing sessions and in-person trainings.

These trainings will target farmers to educate them on cocoa flavour evaluation techniques, and methods for growing and harvesting quality cocoa beans. The activities build on previous World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) and Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod) work that increased Ghana’s capacity to include the critical component of flavour within cocoa plant breeding projects.

WCF Ghana Country Director Vincent Manu said: “We understand that preserving cocoa flavour quality in Ghana and across West Africa will drive value and support incomes and food security for thousands of cocoa farmers, their families and communities.

Flavour quality training courses offered by CRIG have shown great potential rewards for Ghanaian cocoa farmers”.

In October 2017, Simon Marfo – a farmer who had participated in WCF/Cocobod flavour quality training – was one of only 18 winners in the international Cocoa of Excellence Awards at the prestigious Salon du Chocolat in Paris.

WCF is also working on establishing a second flavour laboratory in Côte d’Ivoire at the National Agronomic Research Center (CNRA) to undertake similar work.

Some of the investments made under ACI II are funded by the United States Agency for International Development as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative.