Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Maafo, has defended the promise by the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to provide each student in schools across the country, with a bar of chocolate or cocoa drink each day.
Nana Addo stated at this year’s World Cocoa Day celebration in Kumasi, that such a programme will boost local consumption of cocoa products.
“It is for this reason that the Ministry of Agriculture through COCOBOD, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection through the school feeding programme, and the Ministry of Education through the Ghana Education Service, are to ensure the sustained provision of cocoa beverages and chocolates to school children from primary school to secondary level…[our] target is to provide every Ghanaian student with a bar of chocolate or cocoa beverage each day whilst in school” the President said.
The comments by the President have been met with mostly negative responses from Ghanaians with many on social media questioning the need for such a programme and raising doubts about its sustainability.
However, Yaw Osafo Maafo, brushed these concerns aside, reiterating the President’s belief that the policy will help increase cocoa consumption locally.
“You must create a market within the population for your produce. You must make the cocoa drink available in all schools, available in the [Senior High schools] and available in the universities. Let Ghanaians develop taste for cocoa drink,” he said in an interview with Citi News.
According to Osafo Maafo, despite the large quantities of cocoa beans produced in Ivory Coast and Ghana each year, neither country gets more than 6% of the total proceeds from exports.
“The value chain is worth about $100 billion. Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire – just us – produce 60% of the [cocoa] bean, so we contribute 60% of the value chain, but we get less than 6 billion of the $100 billion, it’s pathetic. It means most of the money goes to those who process, not those who produce the bean, so if we don’t process we’ll not get our fair share of the value chain”
He stated that the country had the technical expertise to process the cocoa beans that are produced, but admitted that there was a need to expand the factories.
“To process the bean, you must have a market for the processed goods. If you process and you are drinking the cocoa; when there’s a tea break, you drink tea and coffee, it’s wrong. The processing mechanism involves plants and machinery and know-how. We have some processing factories in Ghana so we need to expand them. The know-how is there” he said.