- The Ghanaian government and its cocoa industry is gearing up to meet the aim of producing one million metric tonnes of cocoa by 2012. Ghana's Cocoa Marketing Company is already preparing to address bottlenecks in distribution, marketing and sales.
Ghanaian Deputy Minister of Finance Fiifi Kwetey today reminded the Cocoa Marketing Company (CMC) to "equip itself" to adequately deal with the pressures that would come with the one million metric tonne production envisaged by the year 2012. The Deputy Minister was inaugurating an eight-member Board of Directors to oversee the affairs of the CMC.
"The company would not only be expected to sell all the one million tonnes of cocoa that is expected to be produced in 2012 but also to ensure optimum prices on the world market are achieved," he advised.
This, according to Deputy Minister Kwetey, would lead to increased remuneration for cocoa farmers, whose toil has brought the industry this far and by necessary implication, increased revenue for the government and people of Ghana.
Ghana was the world's leading cocoa producer in the early 1960s, with production reaching up to 500,000 tonnes in good years. Poor maintenance and policies however caused cocoa harvest to drop during the 60s and 70s, reaching a low of 159,000 tonnes in the 1983-84 season.
Since the mid-80s, several Ghanaian governments have tried to reform the sector to reach its market potentials. By the mid-90s, average Ghanaian cocoa crops reached 300,000 tonnes, but the West African country still had to see neighbouring Côte d'Ivoire taking the lead in production and Southeast Asia reaching far larger productivity on its cocoa fields.
During the government of ex-President John Kufuor, new aims were set to reach Ghana's full cocoa potentials. The timing was good as cocoa world market prices hit record levels as the Ivorian cocoa crop had been crippled. The one-million-tonnes aim was set.
Reforms included both a liberalised market, focus on quality, increasing productive areas and attempts to strongly increase yields and productivity. In year 2000, Ghana's productivity was set at a mere 300 kilograms per hectare, competing with a Southeast Asian productivity of almost 1,000 kilograms per hectare.
Now, government holds that plans to reach the one-million threshold by 2012 seem realistic as productivity is rapidly increasing. The new Cocoa Marketing Company board assured Deputy Minister Kwetey it would "dedicate itself towards the improvement of the existing systems for the attainment of the full potential of Ghana's cocoa industry by reaping maximum benefit from the store of knowledge, expertise and professionalism of fellow board members."
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