Monday, February 14 has been set aside as National Chocolate Day. The day also marks Valentine’s Day. But in Ghana, the occasion will be used largely to help sensitise the public to the need to increase consumption of cocoa products.
As the second largest producer of cocoa in the world, Ghana cannot be found in the league of 50 top cocoa consuming countries. The country consumes about 0.53 kilogrammes (kg) of cocoa-sourced products every year and that is a drop in the ocean when compared to countries such as Switzerland, Australia, Germany, Ireland and Great Britain where an average of eight kg of the products are consumed every year.
When it comes to the ‘golden pod,’ the country also produces what it hardly eats and that is a blow, given the nutritional and health benefits of cocoa.
From the enviable ‘Ghana chocolate,’ cocoa powder beverages to body lotions made from cocoa and its by-products, not many people in the country are excited about products made from cocoa.
This is in spite of the fact that the country boasts of an installed cocoa processing plant with a capacity of 450,000 tonnes per annum and dozens of entrepreneurs using innovative ways to process cocoa into edibles and other usable products.
To help realise the gains of National Chocolate Day, the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) are spearheading efforts at sensitising the public to the need to increase the consumption of cocoa products.
The day was extended to a week last year and featured various innovative events such as musical concerts, quiz competitions and exhibitions.
This year’s event kicked off last week and will be climaxed on Monday, February 14. As part of activities for the week-long awareness creation, various fora have been held to propagate the numerous benefits of cocoa consumption.
The Daily Graphic finds this innovative and commends the management of COCOBOD, the GTA and the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture for the collective effort to educate people on the need to increase consumption of cocoa products.
It is unfortunate that Ghana is the second largest producer of cocoa in the world and yet consumption of cocoa products is at a low ebb.
Beyond denying Ghanaians the nutritional value of cocoa, the low consumption also deprives the country of jobs and increased revenue as more employment cannot be created through increased consumption.
Increased consumption, undoubtedly can stimulate value addition, drive revenue generation for the state, increases incomes for workers and reduce the export of raw materials.
While at it, we urge the government to introduce other initiatives to increase the consumption of cocoa and its derivatives among Ghanaians and foreign nationals. It will be forward-looking to make cocoa beverages the national drink at all state-sponsored events. It is long overdue.
This should be followed up with chocolate and cocoa breaks where cocoa-sourced chocolates are served to guests especially foreigners at those events.
We also urge the private sector to take advantage of the emerging interest in cocoa products to make their products readily available and affordable to the public.
The current situation where chocolate and other cocoa-based products are priced as luxury products should be looked at properly. More people will only consume the products if the price is within reach, and given the benefits of economics of scale, it is advisable that the companies aim to grow volumes.
We also urge the COCOBOD to step up efforts to support the companies to introduce other products such as cocoa-based liquor, lotions and even pharmaceutical products to the local market.
This will help to create and sustain the domestic demand for cocoa, thereby reducing the country’s over-reliance on the global market for sales and its attendant consequences.
We note with satisfaction the agenda to raise domestic production to 50 per cent but that will remain an aspiration if the companies are not supported with incentives such as sustained supply of beans at competitive prices and access to soft loans at below market rates.
Together, let us work to increase cocoa consumption to enable us to benefit from its numerous nutritional and health benefits while increasing value addition for job creation and retention.
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