A member of the British House of Lords, Rt. Hon Lord Paul Boateng has challenged the government to focus on processing cocoa to transform the economy.
Speaking at the 5th John Evans Atta Mills Commemorative lecture at GIMPA yesterday, Lord Boateng bemoaned the insignificant 2 percent gains Africa makes through exporting raw cocoa beans, while the value of the manufacture of same stands at $100 billion.
“Where is the justice in that?” Lord Boateng asked.
He said other countries had made the $100 billion “just as the price of Cocoa has fallen to an all-time low and profits of global manufacturers of chocolate have hit an all time high.
Lord Boateng, therefore, urged the Akufo-Addo administration to prioritize the sector, adding that it will create more jobs for the youth.
“A change will not simply come about through Africans bringing more cocoa and more coffee… we have got to start processing that cocoa and roasting that coffee on the continent and we need to engage young people in that process of Agribusiness.”
The need for Ghana to add value to cocoa before exporting has been drummed home over the years, but the country still exports about 80 percent of its raw cocoa beans, losing a lot of foreign earnings.
The government has already made known ambitious intentions to increase cocoa production to one million metric tons as it improves the local processing of the beans to 50%.
Currently, there are about seven major cocoa processing firms in the country including the Ghana Cocoa Processing Company.
Need for policy continuity
Former President John Mahama, who was at the lecture, expressed some optimism and said government’s adoption of policy continuity in agriculture will help transform the economy.
“For instance, we proposed the issue of farmer service centres and other things. I think that if we continue looking at the full value chain and giving the farmers the support they need, we should be able to breakthrough in agriculture.”
Mr. Mahama said he was hopeful that initiatives put in place by the Akufo-Addo administration would see Ghana to an agriculture break through, “but we must all come on board and support.”
By: Caleb Kudah/Delali Adogla-Bessa/citifmonline.com/Ghana