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Demand for agriculture could negate cocoa production

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An expert in the cocoa industry has advised stakeholders in the sector to effectively tackle scarcity of land for agriculture, especially after the global economic recession, where demand for land for cereal farming and animal husbandry had increased.

Mr. Hope Sona Ebai, Secretary General of the Cocoa Producers' Alliance (COPAL), expressed worry that rapid demand for land for agriculture activities and bio-fuel to fight hunger and climate change had negative repercussion on cocoa cultivation.

He was speaking on Wednesday at the launch of 2010 COPAL Cocoa Day, in Accra.

Mr. Ebai said stakeholders had to deal with a second issue of the cocoa consumer who has emerged from the global economic crisis with a more critical request for quality, healthy and value-for money products.

“The critical consumer will become more health conscious, wanting chocolate without any contamination and with properties that are positive to his health. The consumer will increasingly ask for chocolate that has been produced, traded and manufactured in sustainable ways, meeting economic, social and environmental criteria,” he said.

Mr. Ebai called for radical modernization of cocoa production to prevent the industry from stagnating.

“I prefer to see a cocoa sector with very high productivity of over 2,000 kilogramme per hectare, with diversified, intensive farming, rapid growth rates in supply and in demand and prices at medium or moderate levels of 2,500 to 3,000 dollars per tonne,” he said.

Mr. Anthony Fofie, Chief Executive of the COCOBOD, said Cocoa Day celebration, which was out-doored at the 67th General Assembly and Council of Ministers Meeting, in Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe in 2004, was initiated by COPAL.

He said the meeting declared every 1st October as a day set aside to promote local consumption of cocoa, adding that Ghana adopted the day in 2005 and since then the country had joined other countries to celebrate it.

This year's celebration is on the theme: “Cocoa-Our Health, Our Wealth.

Mr Fofie said chocolate contained more than 300 chemical elements that were found in plant-based foods, which protected the body against heart diseases, blood pressure and blood clots.

The event, which would be held at Hohoe in the Volta Region, is expected to commence with a pre-cocoa day programmes that would include outreach programmes to create awareness on health issues.

The main event would be a grand durbar of chiefs, government officials and stakeholders with an exhibition of cocoa products and by-products.


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