The Vice President of the Cocoa Value Addition Artisans Association of Ghana (COVAAGH), Mrs Ida Dela Kuekey Austine has called on the government to provide the necessary support to artisanal cocoa processors in the country.
According to her, this would help them expand their businesses and enable them to fully participate and benefit from the AfCFTA. She explained that this would make them expand their processing capacity, thereby creating more employment, particularly for the youth.
Speaking to a 2017 research finding by Goodman LLC, she said that the country has an installed cocoa processing capacity of 450,000 tonnes per annum. Meanwhile, the current local processing capacity is 225,000 tonnes representing about 34% as against the national goal of 50%.
“Unfortunately, since independence, Ghana has failed to capitalize on processing majority of the cocoa it exports, thereby earning less from the commodity.”Mrs Ida Dela Kuekey Austine, Vice President of COVAAGH
Mrs Austine said the Association is poised to change the situation by adding more value to Ghana’s cocoa with the requisite support by the government. The Association comprises 40 small and medium-scale cocoa addition artisanal processors, she revealed.
“COVAAGH members will add their quota to the existing large-scale processors by increasing the country’s processing level to over 60%. The uniqueness of COVAAGH members is their commitment to bridge the gap between production and consumption through value addition.”
Challenges of Local Cocoa Processors
Despite the huge potential of the artisanal cocoa value addition sector for the country and its readiness to expand into the African market through AfCFTA, she said the industry is facing several challenges.
Some of the challenges she enumerated are difficulty in accessing cocoa beans and procuring semi-finished products from large scale processors; the unfavourable high tax burden on semi-processed cocoa products; absence of government policy to promote the development of artisanal value addition; high cost of equipment and the prohibitive cost of the bank credit.
Among other things, Mrs Austine, therefore, called on the government to reduce the taxes on local cocoa beans semi-processed cocoa products. She also asked that government reduce taxes on equipment for local cocoa value addition. In addition, she called on the government to ensure that COCOBOD speeds up and makes processes of procuring cocoa beans by local artisans less cumbersome.
According to her, members of the association need to be exposed to the international market. Therefore, she appealed to the government to ensure that international platforms are available to them through trade fora. She believed that COVAAGH and its membership present a potential avenue for employment creation, wealth creation and a foreign exchange earner when given the needed support.
“More importantly, COVAAAGH needs the government to create a special-purpose fund to provide financial support (operational and equipment) to boost local artisanal cocoa value addition.”Mrs Ida Dela Kuekey Austine, Vice President of COVAAGH
The Vice President of COVAAAGH noted that when these challenges are solved, its members would fully benefit from the AfCFTA while creating more employment and adding to national development.
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