The 18th National Chocolate Week has been launched successfully at the Accra Tourist Information Centre (ATIC) on Tuesday 7th February, 2023.
The brief occasion which was held under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture, Ghana Tourism Authority, and in partnership with the Ghana Cocoa Board, FAIRAFRIC Ghana Limited and the Cocoa Processing Company is under the theme, “Eat Chocolate, Stay Healthy, Grow Ghana”.
Hon. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, Minister of Information, who was the keynote speaker for the National Chocolate Week Launch, together with the Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Hon. Mark Okraku Mantey launched this year’s National Chocolate Week celebration, with a call for the country to focus on processing more cocoa beans locally and consumption chocolate and Cocoa based products.
According to Hon. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, focusing on the processing of cocoa is a sure way to increase the country’s chances of raking in substantially from the over USD150 billion in revenues accrued from the global chocolate confectionery industry annually.
He also called on Ghanaians to rally around the cocoa consumption promotion agenda and “see it as a national duty”.
The Deputy Minister for Tourism Arts and Culture, Hon. Mark Okraku Mantey said the active collaboration between the GTA, COCOBOD and Cocoa Processing Company (CPC), as well as other partners, to transform the National Chocolate Day into the National Chocolate Week has provided a longer period of engagement and has increased awareness creation to further stimulate the consumption of chocolate and cocoa based products.
“We have managed to establish a high degree of association between tourism and cocoa-based products one of which is chocolate, and positioned it as a veritable component of the Ghana tourism experience”. He opined
He again hinted on the socio-economic benefits of the National Chocolate Week, that he said has brought the increased in local consumption of chocolate and other cocoa based products and that the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture will continue to actively support the National Chocolate Week Celebration.
Mr. Mac Manu, Board Chairman of Ghana Cocoa Board who doubled as the Chairman of the occasion, said the Board was particularly interested in moving the country beyond the leading producer of premium cocoa beans globally to the leading processor and consumer of premium cocoa. He said they had introduced policies and liaised with various key stakeholders to create a conducive environment for cocoa processing, especially for small-scale producers. “While pushing for avenues for increased local processing, we also have the duty to help build a reliable market base locally for our processors, which makes the celebration of the Chocolate Week Celebration even more important.”
Mr Manu encouraged stakeholders to see the success of this year’s National Chocolate Week Celebration as a critical national assignment and urged Ghanaians to actively promote and participate in the various programme of activities lined up for the celebration.
Mr. Ray Ankrah, Deputy CEO in Charge of Finance and Administration at the COCOBOD who read a statement on behalf of Hon Joseph Boahen Aidoo, Chief Executive of Ghana Cocoa Board said a number of Productivity Enhancement Programmes (PEPs) which is aimed at increasing the annual cocoa production output have been laid out. ”While these efforts are laudable on the production end of the cocoa value chain, there is also the need to add value to our cocoa in terms of processing and additionally, increase consumption through the creation of awareness on its health and nutritional benefits” he added.
Mr. Ankrah again hinted that, some current tax regimes are affecting the efforts of COCOBOD to get more entrepreneurs into cocoa processing and value addition, especially those who are into small scale manufacturing. However, discussions are ongoing with the relevant state agencies to have taxes paid by artisanal chocolate manufacturers reduced or scrapped to reduce cost of operation in order to make them more competitive.
According to him, another challenge identified in the artisanal chocolate industry is the skill sets of the industry players. “I am however happy to report that we have engaged a Belgium chocolate company that will soon set up a chocolate academy to start training and polishing the skills of our chocolate makers”.
“Aside the National Committee for Promotion of Cocoa Consumption which works to create awareness for increased local consumption, another Committee has been tasked to work on market access and opportunities within the African Intercontinental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). Furthermore, North America and the largely untapped Asian Market have proven to be good markets for our processed cocoa products and a tailor-made strategy is being fashioned out to help us penetrate these promising markets” he continued.
Programmes lined up for the celebration include a health walk, family day out and variety show at the Chocolate City, church visitations, time with school children, meeting moments across the regions, couples’ night out, and donations.
Other dignitaries present at the event were Chief Director Ministry of Tourism, Arts And Culture, Mr. John Yao Agbeko, Mr. Ben Anane Nsiah Deputy CEO In Charge of General Services, Ghana Tourism Authority, Nana Ansong Marketing Manager of CPC, Mrs. Alisa Osei Asamoah, President of the Tour Operators Union of Ghana (TOUGHA), Managing Director of FAIRAFRIC Ghana Ltd, Mr. Michael Mammon Halm, Nana Ama of FAIRAFRIC Marketing team, Council Member of the Ghana Tourism Federation (GHATOF), Mrs. Stella Appenteng, Representatives of the GIPC and GEPA, Ms. Anita Quarshie of the Ghana Free Zones Authority (GFZA), Representatives of Cargill Ghana, Niche Cocoa, Chocomac, Barry Callebaut, Covaaagh, Cocoshe, World Cocoa Foundation(WCF) etc.