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08.04.2007 Feature Article

Why stop promotion of cocoa product indulgence for Valentine day only?

Promoting cocoa and chocolate consumption is significant for our economy.

Ghana was for many years the world's largest producer of cocoa, with production at around 400,000 tonnes per annum. Though there had been decline since 1983 due to unusually dry seasons, a shortage of farm labourers, deterioration of the railways and roads, and lack of insecticides.
If these are areas identified as the problems of our decline in cocoa production we need to use these issues, address them, and regain our position as the market leader. The cocoa marketing business is tough and one is either in or out. Currently, the labour force employed in cocoa production is relatively poor – is this because productivity is too low or cocoa to cheap? It might be that there just is not any money in cocoa any more, should we look at other crops? Should we look at world prices and future predictions of world demand rather than stay put with what we know?
Currently Indonesia is heavily investing in oil palm so what could we invest
in? These are crucial strategic question Ghana, as a nation must consider.

Malaysia looked at what they were already doing and sort to improve on it and do the same thing but more efficiently and effectively, They also looked at new crops

It appears we have now got a Chief Executive who knows the proper management of the industry. However, Ghana must use all the strategies in marketing, Ansoff, BCG, Porter 5 forces to maximise it profit margin in cocoa. It is rather ironic seeing our cocoa farmers living in poverty instead of living comfortably on the end products of their labour. Why is this so. The general public should cast their minds back to the cocoa farms in Ghana and compare the life style of the farmers to those sitting in offices.

Although the Cocoa Board has been reorganised it still needs to try and make the buying processes a lot easier for farmers. It would be even helpful if the board is able to introduce a basic marketing course to all farmers in their various local languages. This would improve an effective communication and remove the attitude of (them and us) meaning top executives feeling they are more superior to the farmers. The farmers would then feel part of the Decision-Making Unit because they would understand the language used during negotiations and transactions.

We are also aware that cocoa is predominant, providing about 60% of total export earnings. Its importance is great: the sector employs about a quarter of the country's labour force, uses about half the land under cultivation and generates 10% of the GNP.

The bottom line is that without these cocoa farmers there would be no Cocoa Marketing Board and the impact of this would be very devastating to our economy. It would be fair to say that all cocoa farming communities should by right be provided with libraries, public toilets, community centre, good schools with IT facilities because some on these group of farmers holds Ghana's future.

Comparing the benefits others are creaming on the backs of our cocoa farmers in the developed world. For example in Britain in 2005,The Academy of Chocolate was launched 15 June 2005 with the aim to

• Encourage chocolate lovers to 'look beyond the label' to differentiate between chocolate confectionery and 'real' chocolate;
• To improve the standard and knowledge of chocolate in the UK by promoting an understanding of the ingredients of chocolate, through the chain, from bean to bar.

Does Ghana, a leading producer of cocoa have such an innovative idea to entice the tourists to come to Ghana stay in chalet homes around our cocoa farms help the farmers in harvesting the raw cocoa. This is why we need cocoa museums.

Another initiative worth exploring is the building of a cocoa museum to reflect the cocoa journey with its final destination our sweet mouth. Museum of this nature would give raise to more employment, building of chalets, even mud homes around the farmers with mosquito nets for a tourist to book in either for a day, week or month etc and participate helping the local cocoa farmer and paying them money in the process. It would be a great idea for the Cocoa Marketing Board to invest in this area and engage the farmers too. Ideally we need to have basic amenities such libraries with IT facilities, community centre, public toilets and good schools around these areas.
Well, well, a week booking stay in the cocoa farm could fetch at least between £500- £600 whist a day stay could be £80-100 everything inclusive. By this I mean boarding and lodging, food, palm wines etc., and local trips and above all making the individual tourist feel great, the warmth and friendliness with a opportunity to taking photos with the team.

Ghana may also need to promote our chocolate drink as a 24/7 one drunk hot or cold.
Therefore all shop could be selling this product everywhere and not just as a morning drink. When one gets off a plane the first drink we should be offering people is the cocoa drink. The dried bean selves are used in the gardens in the U.K as mulch. It does produces a lovely aroma particularly in the evening and early morning.

In Britain smart business companies have linked Easter to Easter eggs. Therefore encouraging the public to buy more chocolate during the Easter celebration, hence increasing sales, and market share of chocolate. What are we doing in this area? Would it be worth trying to emulate this practice too and increase our market share and position? Ghana should not be shy and get in to this market of Easter eggs and hen, chick, cockerel etc. Laugh at it but the facts are money is being made in the process.

We need to promote the cocoa beans on T-shirt, mugs, plate mats, clothing, wood craving and craft and art etc.

The way forward; should consider marketing cocoa products in Asia as the developing economy is there. Currently, 80% of all cocoa products are manufactured or consumed in North America and Europe. Asia is an untouched market we should now be targeting. We buy their electronics we pay in cocoa.

Way Forward farmers: Cocoa farms must utilise all levels of their lands. Apart from banana s being planted for shade for young cocoa trees, cocoyams, pineapples, okros could also be grown along side the cocoa plantations.

Also with climate changes, would it be the right time to start thinking of what else needs growing apart from cocoa?

Finally, by introducing a cocoa farming holidays for youths, tourists and local adventures this would the knowledge of the impact the farmers contribute to our society. It would be worth considering art and craft, local way of living, the fetching of water from wells, clearing the fields and teaching our local languages and basically the every day life we take for granted. The whole package could be marketed internationally, nationally and locally. Many people would be proud to say that, they have helped on a cocoa farm before. A form of certificate could be issue after completion of the holiday as proof. So why don't we flaunt this idea on the website for our cocoa farmers? I would leave this suggestion to the Cocoa Marketing Board.

Mercy Adede Bolus
Mercy Adede Bolus, © 2007

This author has authored 172 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: MercyAdedeBolus

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