V. L. K. Djokoto
Tetteh-Quarshie is associated in Ghana with the introduction of cocoa. But he was by no means the first to try it out. An article by Preiswerk-Imholf in West Africa, 2 Mar. 1929 suggests that the Basel Mission imported some cocoa-seedlings from Suriname as early as 1858 and started yielding fruits by the 1860s. Horton reported in 1868 that the Basel missionaries were attempting to naturalise the Mexican cocoa or chocolate plant: ‘They have a few trees growing at Akropong which have borne very large fruit’. West African Countries and Peoples, p. 147.
However, it remains a fact that when Quarshie returned to Mampong-Akwapim from Fernando Po in 1879 with a handful of seeds, he provided the economic leadership which was a prerequisite of development for the cocoa market economy. The annual total of cocoa-exported was about 13 tons in 1895. By 1911, it had leapt to more than 5,000 tons, and by 1911, with nearly 40,000 tons, the Gold Coast became the world’s leading producer. The world production and consumption had doubled.
Today, Africa still produces 75 per cent of the global cocoa output, yet it profits only five per cent of the US$100 billion chocolate industry, according to the African Development Bank (AfDB). Switzerland and Belgium, the world’s top two producers of chocolate, reportedly earn some US$14 billion and US$12 billion respectively from the product on an annual basis.
Ghana is a good Republic in which to invest and reap great returns. It provides an excellent opportunity for the investor who wishes to enter business in Africa. It offers the advantages of a free market enterprise economy, a high degree of political stability, many investment incentives and a rapidly expanding market.
The strength of the Republic depends upon the state of our national economy.
The Way Forward.
The Ghanaian chocolate and dairy industry have the potential to break new grounds with innovative techniques and recipes with regards to the production of chocolate. This will be part of broad pro-business reforms aimed at the rapid expansion and revival of the Ghanaian economy. The idea is to manufacture chocolate and dairy products here in Ghana and encourage indigenous African-owned businesses to headquarter their corporations in Accra, Ghana.
We must deepen our partnership with Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Nigeria, Togo, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Haiti and Madagascar to create a powerful bloc of top cocoa-producing Republics. There is a pressing need for a more integrated, supra-national organisation of cocoa-producing Republics. Our aim is to cooperate with capital and technical knowledge in the common economic exploitation of our wealth.
By removing trade restrictions, developing a fair tax structure and maintaining stable democracies, I believe the economic environment could prove favourable to our operation. So long as the ultimate interest of our Republics and citizens remains our priority, we shall multiply the benefits possible to them.
As Ghana develops into a modern Republic, she attracts the interest of more and more people throughout the world. They include entrepreneurs, tourists, students and many other global citizens attracted by the history, culture and beauty of our country or the opportunities offered by our domestic economy.
Ghana can find itself within the top three producers of chocolate globally by 2036 if we can strike a balance between liberal economics and scientific socialism. A US$7.2 billion investment can transform the chocolate industry and dairy industry simultaneously within the next two decades.
A US$2 billion capital investment should also be specifically allocated to startups and small-scale enterprises within the chocolate and dairy industry to create more jobs in the private sector and to tackle youth unemployment. This would include advice and assistance regarding the manufacturing and selling of the products. The political and economic structure should aim at the large-scale growth of cocoa manufacturing.
These startups and small-scale enterprises should receive corporate tax exemptions as an incentive, so they may pay their employers much better. The government would also introduce a marketing scheme that seeks to retail the manufactured products from startups on the international market, administered by a duly established Accra Chamber of Commerce. This would stimulate and increase youth participation in industrial and commercial activities.
The government could also merge small-scale enterprises by farmers into large-scale holding associations, as was once the case with the Larteh Planters’ Union and the Dodowah Planters’ Company. In Obomofo-Densua, for example, a company of dozen Shai people bought nearly 600 acres in 1906 for about £600, and the land was then divided into individually-owned strips.
Their farmland represents a form of collateral for loans.
US$5 billion should go into the modernisation of the cocoa agricultural, infrastructure, transportation and technology. We should aim to sell and/or consume 10 per cent of this output domestically and export 90 per cent abroad. US$200 million should go directly into research on food, nutrition and health aspects of the industry. We must also take great care to ensure that our methods of production are green-oriented.
According to the Ghana News Agency, more than 1.2 million persons from 15 years and older are estimated to be unemployed, representing the total unemployment rate of 11.9%. Of this number, about 714,916 are females, representing 57.2 per cent and 535,997 for males representing 42.8%.
Our economic expansion in the international market depends largely upon the growth of indigenous Ghanaian businesses. We must speed up the pace of development, based on capital investment, and seek to expand the chocolate and dairy industry.