There are growing concerns about the potential collapse of Ghana’s cocoa industry as China starts growing and exporting the cash group. The fear appears justified over China’s capital Beijing’s capacity to use technology to scale up production to surpass Ghana and Ivory Coast, the world’s leading producers of cocoa.
The Asian country recently exported its first batch of cocoa beans weighing 500 kg, worth about $3,600 to Belgium. This was made known by Hao Zhaoyun, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences (CATAS), according to China Daily.
Zhaoyun said the cocoa beans are being produced in Xinglong, a township of Hainan with a tropical climate. He also noted that Hainan is expanding its cocoa production to meet the increasing demand for chocolates. “As Belgium is dubbed ‘kingdom of chocolates,’ exports to the country indicate that our cocoa production standards have been recognized by the international community,” he said.
Commenting on China’s cocoa beans to Belgium, Ghanaian industrialist Tony Oteng-Gyasi said Ghana should investigate how China’s earned a better price for its first cocoa beans export.
Respected Ghanaian Statesman, Sir Sam Jonah, also lamented the role of the Chinese in the destruction of cocoa farms. “The Chinese having helped pollute our rivers through illegal mining activities and having, in connivance with some Ghanaians acquired large tracks of farmlands in the cocoa-growing areas have started producing their own cocoa,” he said.
Ghana’s cocoa management agency, Cocobod, said it is assessing the impact of the Chinese’s involvement in the sector. The Public Affairs Manager of the agency, Fiifi Boafo, told local station Citi FM that the cocoa market has been saturated, adding that consumption has also slowed.
“So any new addition in terms of production is a matter of concern because higher production without commensurate consumption will force the price of cocoa downwards,” he said. However, he maintained that China cannot match Ghana in the production of quality cocoa beans.
Ghana’s Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) in a statement called on the government to introduce innovative measures to boost cocoa production. “We have to immediately change how we produce cocoa in this country. For more than 100 years we have been using cutlasses and hoes on our cocoa farms,” said Edward Kareweh, General Secretary of GAWU.
Cocoa remains one of the backbones of Ghana’s economy, in addition to commodities such as oil and gas. Ghana is the second-largest producer of cocoa after Ivory Coast. The two West African nations control 60% of the cocoa market.