GHANA – The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has opened the first farmer-owned cocoa fermentation centre in the country under its Fine-Flavour cocoa production initiative.

The fermentation centre comes as a great relief to farmers and will eliminate theft of cocoa and exposure of cocoa beans to bad weather conditions during the post-harvest processes.

According to reports by Africa Agribusiness, its development was jointly funded by Tachibana & Co. Ltd., Guittard Chocolate, Transroyal Ghana Limited and COCOBOD with technical support from the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG).

During the official hand-over of the facility to the Fine Flavour Cocoa Farmers’ Cooperative, the Executive Director of CRIG, Dr. Isaac Yaw Opoku said the fermentation centre was built to ensure that the high quality of cocoa produced in the area was not compromised.

The country currently produces about 30 metric tonnes of the premium variety of cocoa and projected a rise in production with the identification of more conducive areas for its production.

The Fine flavour cocoa is highly priced on the world market, selling at around US$5000 to US$10,000 per tonne.

“Our initial soil tests showed that the soil in Offinso supports the fine flavour cocoa production. We have recently identified soils in Akim Oda and two other districts as perfect for the same exercise so that Ghana’s production level scales higher in the next few years,” he said.

Ghana’s attempt to penetrate the niche cocoa market began with a pilot project in the Offinso District in 2008.

Opoku lauded the steady growth in membership of the Offinso Fine Flavour Farmers’ Cooperative from 15 to 515 and expressed optimism that the numbers would go up as more farmers sign on to the project.

The Fine flavour cocoa is highly priced on the world market, selling at around US$5000 to US$10,000 per tonne.

The launch of the fermentation center is one of the many initiatives undertaken by COCOBOD aimed to boost productivity and performance of the cocoa sector.

The board recently introduced the Cocoa Management System, a comprehensive and integrated farmer database, to inform its operations and ensure effective and efficient management of the industry.

The CMS is an online portal that will capture the demographics of cocoa farmers, farm sizes, input supplies, payment transactions and facilitate the roll out of the Cocoa Farmers’ Pension Scheme.

The system termed as a game-changer for the industry, will enhance transparency and be a link between the farmer, COCOBOD, service providers, input dealers/ suppliers and financiers.

In addition to that the government has also set out policies such as the introduction of living income differential and increase in cocoa prices aimed to tackle poverty among the farmers.

The scheme has however been met with slight set backs with recent reports highlighting the West African country and its neighbour Ivory Coast accusing leading chocolate makers of undermining the scheme.

To this end, the two countries have waged war to the likes of Hershey by cancelling cocoa sustainability schemes that the U.S.-based chocolate maker runs in their countries.

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