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Ghana pledges sustainable cocoa push - report

By Neil Merrett , 19-Feb-2008

The Ghanaian cocoa board is planning to significantly step up cocoa production in the country over the next three years in a nationwide shake-up of how the crop is farmed, according to press reports.

Board deputy chief executive Charles Bernard Ntim said that a new program of crop husbandry schemes was being implemented in a move expected to lift output to 1m tonnes, the Dow Jones Newswires service reported Friday. Some leading confectioners, particularly those operating in Europe and the US, are particularly reliant on cocoa coming from Ghana and other African producers, as worldwide supply of the crop struggles to meet demand. Ntim was speaking at last week at the fifth African Fine Coffee Conference in Kampala, Uganda, stating that that a number of schemes were currently being put in place, the report said The programs are expected to include supplying improved planting materials to farmers, using fertilisers to improve soil fertility and replanting schemes in the country. According to the International Cocoa Organisation, African countries now provide about 70 per cent of the world's cocoa, up from 61 per cent in the mid-1990s, with Cote D'Ivoire and Ghana cultivating the lion's share. Together the two countries account for 65 per cent of global net exports. Most of the cocoa cultivated in Africa is exported to the major centres of cocoa consumption in Europe and North America, with the Netherlands and the US maintaining their positions as the world's two leading cocoa processing countries, the ICCO added. As a result of this dependence, leading groups like Cadbury have pledged their own initiatives to encourage more sustainable supply in the region. At the end of last month, the UK-based confectioner said that it would be launching a fund to aid its suppliers in the country after company research found average production in the region to be 40 per cent lower than the potential yield. The Cadbury Cocoa Partnership, was established in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Rivals like Mars and Nestle have also signed up to sustainable cocoa programmes recently, with both manufacturers initiating a traceability system for all farmers in the Ivory Coast.

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