Ghana now processes around 400,000 tonnes – 40 percent of its 1 million tonnes of cocoa beans locally, following the inauguration of Afrotropic Cocoa Processing Company, a local processor acquired and revamped with $30 million by Nutkao Group of Italy.
Ghana, the second largest producer of cocoa in the world after Ivory Coast, is seeking to process at least 50 percent of its cocoa beans in the short-term and the 40 tonnes capacity a day factory takes the country closer to achieving that mark.
“The strategic purpose of having this investment here is to gain preferential access to cocoa beans,” CEO of Nutkao Group, Andrea Guidi said at the factory’s inauguration in Accra
“We are an Italian group that makes chocolates and chocolate spreads, so raw cocoa beans is a strategic raw material for us, and by investing here, we have gained preferential access to cocoa beans,” Mr. Guidi added.
According to the group CEO, the total investment including the cost of acquiring Afrotropic Cocoa Processing Company, refurbishment and purchase of new machinery is around $30 million.
The plant started production last September and was ramped-up to full capacity of 40 tonnes of beans per day at the beginning of 2019.
“Our goal is to reach full capacity and for as long as we are able to get access to more beans, we are willing to increase the capacity. We will do it if we are confident enough to get the quantity of beans that we need,” he added when asked if the group has plans to increase the factory’s capacity in the near future.
The government through COCOBOD, regulator of the cocoa sector, has said it plans to achieve the 50 percent processing target by increasing production.
Hackman Owusu Agyeman who chairs COCOBOD, has said on several occasions that by making more beans available and with the right incentives, the country can attract leading processors.
On his part, Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan Kyerematen, said, “I consider this a significant investment to enhance the capacity and productivity of this company.”
He was upbeat that the investment by Nutakao Group, which he indicated falls under the government’s One District One Factory industrialisation initiative, will create jobs and, most importantly, help to add value to the country’s cocoa.
“For over 100 years, we have been exporting cocoa without much value addition. We now have an installed processing capacity of about 400,000 tonnes even though we have a crop of 1 million tonnes per annum.
“It means we are processing 40 percent of our beans when we should be doing over 90 percent where we can get the maximum benefit,” Mr. Kyerematen lamented.
The minister further noted that government was committed to improving the business environment through well-thought out reforms, which he said would help the Akufo-Addo led administration to attract more investments.