The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has signed an agreement with the China National Complete Engineering Corporation (CCEC) to support the cocoa industry through the Comprehensive Cocoa Sector Development Programme.
Under the agreement, which was signed at the stand of COCOBOD at the China International Import Exposition in Shanghai, CCEC will provide US$1.5 billion to support the Board to pursue a number of projects to increase cocoa production and processing.
The agreement was signed by Emmanuel Opoku, Deputy Chief Executive in-charge of Operations on behalf of the COCOBOD while the Managing Director of CCEC, Yang Jing, signed on behalf of her outfit.
The funds are to be used for the provision of solar powered pumps to draw water from underground wells, canals to drawn from rivers and streams to irrigate cocoa farms, warehousing facilities for the storage of cocoa beans, production of high yielding seedlings, as well as the construction of roads to open up cocoa growing areas.
Explaining the rationale behind the agreement, Noah Kwasi Amenya, Senior Public Affairs Manager of the COCOBOD, said the effort was aimed at penetrating the Chinese market with processed cocoa powder and chocolate.
He said for the past 15 years, COCOBOD has been exporting 3,000 tonnes of cocoa beans to China through Genertic, a Chinese company that receives cocoa beans as part of the payment for the Chinese loan used in constructing the Bui Power Project.
Mr Amenyah said China presents a big market because of the dominant youth and middle income population who have predisposition for products such as chocolate.
He said that the Chinese have a culture of consuming natural products, particularly those which taste bitter and that’s why Ghana’s cocoa powder and black chocolate have the advantage.
Additionally, he said the health properties of cocoa make it competitively favourate since the Chinese are obsessed about healthy food.
He said as a testimony of the potential of chocolate in the Chinese market, most of the visitors to the COCOBOD stand at the exhibition centre preferred chocolate, particularly the black chocolate and cocoa powder.
David Yang, Managing Director of Genertic in Ghana, said the company was instrumental in securing a Chinese government loan for the establishment of a 40,000-tonne annual cocoa processing factory under construction at Sefwi Wiawso in the Western Region.
He said China was determined to support the government policy of processing at least 50 percent of cocoa beans to be exported to China as part of efforts to deepen trade relations between the two countries in a mutually beneficial manner.
Mr. Wang commended COCOBOD for the level of cooperation with Genertic.
From Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh, Shanghai