Today is Valentine’s Day, and lovers of the world will share enormous amounts of chocolates. The Bank of Ghana should be abuzz with activity, not because love is in the air, but for the simple reason that a lot of foreign exchange is pouring in from the sale of cocoa products across the world! Regrettably, that is not the reality.
Can you imagine the number of chocolate bars that are consumed over the world on any given day? The number is mind-boggling, for sure. According to a quick research on Google, the king of all snacks is – guess what – chocolate. Even at a time when more snackers are going for “healthier alternatives” like fruit, chocolate remains the most popular snack, regarding the number of those who eat it on a regular basis. So I’d bet the chocolate business (cultivation, export, manufacture, retail, etc.) must be quite lucrative.
As you know, a significant proportion of cocoa beans, the main ingredient of chocolate, comes from Ghana. The country is capable of producing much more cocoa than it is doing now. Besides, cocoa beans from Ghana are in very high demand, because they are regarded as premium quality. So Ghana could be very, very rich on account of cocoa revenue alone! But that is not the case, sadly.
Not until quite recently, when Ghana was the leading producer of cocoa in the world, the national cocoa trade was fraught with mismanagement and corruption. For example, the process of getting cocoa beans from the farms to the ports was ridiculously cumbersome, and it benefitted the middlemen more than the farmers.
But our farmers, even the uneducated ones, cannot be taken for granted. Some of them now ship their produce to neighbouring countries to sell for more decent prices. Other cocoa farmers have abandoned the business altogether and ventured into food crop farming, cultivating annuals like cassava and yams, which they can sell directly to consumers and retailers.
Currently, Ghana has lost its position as the world’s top cocoa producer, and cocoa farming, as an occupation, is not as attractive as it used to be.
The Ghana brand of the chocolate bar is called “Golden Tree.” Associating cocoa with gold is pretty apt because cocoa can fetch the country just as much revenue as gold, if not more. Think about the millions of chocolate bars that are relished every minute, around the world, and imagine Ghana seriously competing for a share of the profits. This year, the global chocolate market is expected to sell nearly $100 billion worth of chocolates.
Cocoa production is yet another area where Ghana is performing far below par. I shudder to think about the millions of foreign exchange dollars the country loses every minute, just because only a fraction of Ghana's high-quality cocoa beans make it to the world market.
Ghana is potentially the largest producer of Cocoa in the world. The country could get so much revenue from cocoa that it would be unnecessary to turn to the IMF for a bailout. However, the one-time leading producer of cocoa doesn’t seem to be as interested in the highly profitable cocoa industry as it should be. That is so sad.
By the way, does Ghana have the ambition to recapture its position as the chief producer of cocoa in the world?
On a day (Valentine’s) like this, when there is a huge demand for chocolates all over the world, I cannot help lamenting about the millions of dollars of cocoa profit that Ghana could make if only the country could somehow manage to get more of its highly-rated cocoa beans onto the world market or better still process the cocoa into finished products.
It’s rather like sitting on a gold mine and not caring about mining it.
I proofread this article with Grammarly, my favourite writing tool.
Written by: Theo Acquah
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