Accra, Nov. 10, GNA - Mrs. Cecilia Abena Dapaah, Deputy Minister of Works and Housing on Thursday said it is universally acknowledged that cocoa has great aphrodisiac benefits and that instead of people relying on viagra and other concoctions and bitters they should rather drink more cocoa which is cheaper and healthier.
She said compounds in cocoa also reduces the risk of blood clots within the blood vessels, thereby minimising the risk of heart attack and stroke as well as improving malfunctioning cells that line the inside of the blood vessels in people over 50 years.
Mrs. Dapaah said this in a statement on the floor of Parliament on the greater consumption of cocoa products in the country. The Minister said apart from the revenue that cocoa generates for the economy, scientific studies have proved that the commodity when consumed, pays great dividend to the health of the people.
"Research has also proven that cocoa is the 'health food of the 21st century'" and that apart from a few individuals who have serious diabetic complications or addictive tendencies for chocolate, nearly everyone of every age can benefit from consuming a cocoa or chocolate products.
"Cocoa is the highest natural source of magnesium - a dietary micronutrient whose deficiency is linked with hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and joint problems."
She said the main fat in chocolate exerts neutral effect on blood cholesterol and that ingesting 35 grams of chocolate a day can help keep heart diseases away.
"According to Professor F.K. Addai of the Anatomy Department of the University of Ghana Medical School, there is a compelling scientific evidence that consumption of cocoa products in conjunction with healthy balanced diet and exercise will produce 'golden health' for all ages."
Mrs. Dapaah said by consuming more cocoa, the cocoa farmer would produce more cocoa, get more money and have good quality life and Ghana would also have healthier and stronger people.
"There is a certain perception that the cocoa industry in Ghana is an export-oriented one and that the cocoa produced is for the foreign market, thus there is very little consumption of cocoa in Ghana." She said, "the NPP government has through good policies and strategies brought positive change to the cocoa industry and this has improved quality of life of cocoa farmers - their farms have better yield as a result of the mass spraying exercise."
She urged colleague MPs to lead the campaign of greater consumption of cocoa by eating more chocolate and drinking more cocoa products as well as propagate the "good news" in their various constituencies at home and abroad.
In a contribution to the statement, Mrs. Grace Coleman, NPP MP for Efiduase-Asokore urged the Minister of Tourism to help in the campaign to promote cocoa products nationwide.
She said the country can derive many cures from cocoa and efforts should be made to promote its efficacy instead of only exporting it for financial purposes.
She suggested that cocoa breaks should be introduced at state functions, workshops and seminars instead of the usual coffee breaks. At this juncture, Mr. Enoch T. Mensah, NDC MP for Ningo-Prampram interrupted and reminded her that a lot of farmers in the country also grow coffee, but the Speaker ruled him out of order. Mrs. Coleman continued by saying cocoa is the health remedy for Ghanaians and that everyone should embrace it.
Mr. Stephen Asamoah-Boateng, Deputy Minister of Tourism and Modernisation of the Capital City said cocoa is very important in the national economy and it has been able to sustain Ghana's economy over the years.
He said the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government is taking steps to ensure that the cocoa industry grows and has initiated programmes such as the mass spraying exercise and incentives to the farmers. Mr. Lee Ocran, NDC MP for Jomoro, then caught the Speaker's eye and reminded Mr. Asamoah-Boateng that the NDC government also played a major role to sustain the growth of the cocoa industry.
"You been out of the country for a long while so you don't know what our government did for cocoa farmers."
Mr. Asamoah-Boateng then countered that, "I was not in the country because your government drove me out of the country."
Mr. John Tia, Minority Chief Whip, also joined the fray and told Mr. Asamoah-Boateng to substantiate the allegation he made or otherwise withdraw the statement, which Mr. Asamoah-Boateng obliged.
Mr. Asamoah-Boateng continued by saying that institutions including the national security forces, airlines and schools should patronise cocoa products.
Mr. Sampson Ahi, NDC MP for Juaboso, said his constituency is the highest producer of cocoa in the country but all the roads leading to the area are in bad state.
He urged government to pay cocoa farmers promptly and ensure that benefits due the farmers are not delayed. Mr. Alban Bagbin, Minority Leader, said local consumption of cocoa is not well marketed thus the low consumption of the product by Ghanaians.