Ghana’s historic figure, Tetteh Quarshie, who introduced cocoa into the country on Thursday received a minute’s silence in recognition of his contribution to the success of the cocoa industry.
This was at the prompting of Professor Kofi Agyekum, Senior Lecturer of Linguistics at the University of Ghana, Legon, who chaired the launch of the first ever Cocoa-Chocolate International Festival in Accra on Thursday.
The festival, being organized by Centuries International Cocoa-Chocolate Festival Organization scheduled for September, this year, is to promote coca cultivation as well as the processing and consumption of cocoa products such as Brown Cocoa Powder, Chocolate, candies, soap, and body lotions.
Prof. Agyekum lauded the efforts of Tetteh Quarshie for ensuring the nurturing and mass cultivation of cocoa in Ghana and the ingenuity of Ghanaian researchers and private sector investors who have made it possible for Ghanaians to enjoy a wide range of cocoa products on the market.
He therefore urged other Ghanaians to manage their time profitably, be creative and leave their footprints for the benefit of posterity.
Dr Yaw Owusu Ampomah, Director of the Cocoa Research Institute (CRI), Akim Tafo, who was the guest speaker, gave a brief history of the advent of cocoa, initial problems with cocoa diseases such as capsid and swollen shoot and how the then West African Cocoa Research Institute and later the CRI had researched to contain them.
He said the institute had now developed technologies to not only fight cocoa diseases but researched into high yielding and disease-resistant cocoa varieties that start bearing fruits after 18 months instead of the original variety that took six to seven years before bearing fruits.
He also cautioned on the use of fertilizers and insecticides that could pose great danger to human health and the environment, adding that the environment should not be compromised.
Dr Ampomah praised Tetteh Quarshie for selecting the best cocoa bean variety that had made Ghana the producer of the best quality cocoa in the world, saying producers of chocolate today always made sure that some 70 per cent of the materials for chocolate came from Ghana’s cocoa.
He therefore advised farmers to produce cocoa in a more humane manner that can benefit the farmer and to ensure that technologies are used to improve production to enable Ghana to attain a production level of some one million tons per annum.
Dr Ampomah expressed worry that Ghana’s cocoa was getting contaminated with some unwanted residues and expressed the need to support the CRI to address the problem and not simply pay lip service to the cocoa industry.
When this is done, he said, Ghana could move from the current production level of 650,000 to 700,000 to one million tons.