The Minister for Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, has called for an increase in the domestic processing and consumption of cocoa to stimulate the sector and economy.
He made this call during the launch of this year’s National Chocolate Week Celebrations in Accra on Tuesday, noting that while continuing with efforts to boost domestic production of cocoa, it was important to take advantage of this year’s celebration to step up efforts to increase processing of cocoa locally.
“One of the ways to do this is to guarantee the light crop for the local producers so that they do not have to buy the main crop for domestic processing. As we know, the main crop is comparatively more expensive. If we are serious about boosting local production then we must move quickly to ensure that local processors can fully meet their bean needs from the light crop,” he stated.
Mr Oppong Nkrumah also charged the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) to use policy instruments to ensure that financial support was provided for domestic processors.
“The financial sector should be incentivized to provide financing for the domestic processors using the cocoa beans as security and escrowing into an account of the off-takers. The challenge of financing domestic processors will be lightened via this channel,” he stressed.
The Minister added that while the incentives offered by the Ghana Free Zones Authority were appealing enough to attract more domestic processors, they were not well known.
“These incentives should be better highlighted by the Free Zones Authority and COCOBOD to attract more processors to set up in the free zones area and then process,” he said.
On the matter of stimulating domestic consumption of cocoa products, Mr Oppong Nkrumah said it was important for support to be given to all the value chains in the sector.
“We need to promote more chocolatiers to join the value chain. The more domestic chocolatiers and nuanced products there are on the local market, the better our chances of deepening the local taste and demand. The red carpet of incentives as we would give a foreign direct investor should be rolled out for local chocolatiers as well,” he noted.
According to the Minister, the 35% tax on butter and liquor which were raw materials for chocolatiers should be re-considered to make it less expensive to finance operations and as well make the final products more affordable.
Patience Anaadem, ISD
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