15/10/2004 - German-based Buhler Group has been awarded a multi-million euro contract to expand an existing cocoa production facility in Ghana.
Buhler received the order through MAN Ferrostaal, Germany, as part of its modernisation and expansion of the Cocoa Processing Company's production facilities in the Tema region of the country. The contract comprises the design and supply of a complete cocoa processing facility, including the equipment and the associated infrastructure.
Such investment activities have helped to boost Ghana's cocoa bean harvest. In 2002/2003, production increased from 340,000 to about 500,000 metric tons, and the Buhler project should help to continue this growth.
Buhler is supplying all the plant components for the entire cocoa production process, from the cocoa beans to the finished cocoa mass. In addition, the whole infrastructure such as the water treatment system, the emergency power generating sets, and the steam and compressed air networks will be supplied and installed.
First of all, a fully new cocoa processing plant for the production of cocoa mass will be constructed. In the second phase, the existing facility will be rebuilt and updated to increase the production of cocoa butter and cocoa powder.
The investment in this cocoa facility will enable the output of the existing factory to be boosted from 25,000 to 65,000 metric tons a year over the next four years. Part of the plant has already been supplied and is currently being installed on site.
The second part will be supplied and installed by mid 2005 and will go into operation by the end of 2005.
Tema, located in the south-west of Ghana on the Gulf of Guinea, is an up-and-coming industrial city. The planned expansion is fully in line with the intentions of the government of Ghana to process at least 40 percent of all domestically grown cocoa beans inside the country.
The Cocoa Processing Company in Tema has earned an international reputation for its Golden Tree brand chocolates through the use of high-grade cocoa beans. The company presently exports its products to Europe and the USA, with America ranking among Ghana's biggest buyers of cocoa beans.
However, the country's cocoa industry has had its ups and downs. Ghana's cocoa production stood at 500,000 tons in 1965, but by 1983, it had dropped to as low as 150,000 tons. Low prices and poorly motivated cocoa farmers switched over to competing crops, further aggravating the problems of inefficiency and under-investment.
Cocoa production started to pick up, however, with government schemes to make better techniques and other farm inputs more available to cocoa farmers. These measures, plus better transport facilities, have boosted present annual production to well over 400,000 tons.
As a further measure to step up production, the government has deregulated the industry to allow for greater private sector involvement, concentrating on providing secure markets for farmers through an aggressive marketing programme.
Buhler is a global technology group and system partner for the supply of plant, equipment, and process know-how food processing applications. As in other markets, too, Buhler is a global leader in the supply of cocoa processing and chocolate production plants.