Cocoa is Ghana’s third highest economic contributor after gold and oil and makes the nation the world’s second largest producer of the ‘brown gold’. While Ghana’s in situ cocoa bean treatment business has been patchy at best, government authorities have recently made local cocoa transformation and consumption official priorities. This new policy approach appears to be yielding results both domestically and as regards a rising tide of Ghanaian artisan chocolatiers who are seeking to capture value from the ‘Made in Ghana’ stamp.
Data from the Cocobod (Ghana Cocoa Board), the State entity in charge of managing the country’s cocoa industry, indicate that approximately 80,000 farming families (different sources put the number of cocoa-growers at between 700,000 and 1,000,000) are employed across six of the country’s ten regions and that the industry is providing a living for several million others, including cocoa trading company staff and those working in both the production and farm inputs businesses. Most of the coco growers are tenant farmers working areas of on average 2 hectares and generating yields of approximately 400 kilos per hectare. Cocobod calculates Ghana’s total cocoa surface area at 2.7 million hectares but with only 1.9 million actually productive. The nation’s cocoa bean harvest generates revenues of approximately $2 billion (€1.76 billion, FCFA 1,154 billion), accounts for roughly 15% of its exports, and contributes close to 10% of national GDP. Annual production volumes have risen in recent years to 850,000 tonnes, or 20% of global production, and the government goal is to exceed 1,000,000 tonnes by 2020.
Latest numbers from the cocoa regulator indicate continued rising cocoa production volumes. Between 01 October (the start of the 2018/19 campaign) and 31 January 2019, Ghana will have harvested 644,319 tonnes of officially graded and stamped cocoa, 11% ahead of the same period in the previous 2017/18 campaign. Farm gate purchases are also expected to have risen by 10% to 674,725 tonnes.
Observers expect the numbers to continue to rise in the months ahead, not least because of favorable production environment.