Cocoa processing firms are facing serious financial challenges that are
threatening their survival, a situation that could cripple their
operations, if efforts are not made to rescue them.

Due to serious financial constraints, most of these indigenous cocoa
processing companies are unable to purchase cocoa beans during the main
crop season instead they heavily rely on the light crop beans which are
known to be cheap but less produced for processing, investigation revealed.

The Managing Director of Niche Cocoa Company limited, a wholly owned
Ghanaian company Mr. Edmund A. Poku, in an interview with this reporter
emphasized the need for financial support from government to help his
company participate in purchase during the main crop season.

“As you can see, this company is a wholly owned Ghanaian firm. With an
investment of more than us $20million dollars. We operate within the free
zones enclave in Tema. Our main problem or challenge is the inability to
purchase cocoa beans during the main crop season. This is because they are
expensive. Besides, we are unable to compete with the multinational firms
who purchase these beans during the main crop season due to their huge
financial muscles”.

“What we need is something like a concessionary loan that is a loan with a
highly low interest rate directly from government that will cushion us to
purchase cocoa beans during the main crop season. This will enable us
compete favorably in Ghana and the West Africa sub region. “We will have
more cocoa beans to buy process and supply to the sub regional and regional
market”, he stated.

“Currently, we have the capacity to produce more. Power and water supply
here is stable; the workers are willing to work but there is no money to
buy the we are appealing to government for the support to see us

“Niche Produces High Quality Liquor, Cocoa Cake and cocoa butter. Niche
does not only focus on processing of Products but believes in Value
Addition Through various means including our customer service and support
processes. So we some support I believe our expansion drive will be
massive”, he stated.

In a related development, The Acting Managing Director of Cocoa Processing
Company (CPC) Dr. Frank Asante, also in an interview called on government
to consider releasing funds into the operations of the company to save it
from total collapse. “Listing on the Ghana stock exchange did not help us.
We have the capacity to produce more and sell for profit but there is not
money to buy the cocoa beans. The debt CPC owe its investors is
overwhelming. We are therefore appealing to government of Ghana to
intervene and grant us some concessionary loan to buy the cocoa beans. We
are determined to pay any amount of money government invests in our
operations and on time”. He noted that reasons for the huge debts political
interference by some previous administrations.

The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Carlos Ahenkora, said in an
interview on the issue noted that the concerns of the cocoa processing
companies were genuine and indicated that the ministry would consider the
plights of the companies and grant them the needed support to grow”.

“The agenda of my government is to create employment for the youth. It is
obvious that these processing firms have the capacity to create more jobs
for Ghanaians either directly or indirectly and there is a need to support
them. My government will do everything possible to give them what they
require to survive.

He however urged them to take advantage to whatever support that would come
their way to sustain their operations since it would come again
subsequently should they mess up.

The Board Chairman of Cocobod Hackman Owusu Agyemang in an interview on the
plight of these cocoa processing firms indicated that Ghana Cocobod has
initiated a program that would support the processing of about 50% of
Ghana’s cocoa beans into value addition products and everything would be
done to equip these companies help government realized this dream.

“The time has come for us to add value to our cocoa produce and since these
firms are already established, l will convince the president to accept the
proposal to provide all the financial support necessary for Ghana to
realize this dream. The market is already there, looking at the population
of West Africa which is over three hundred million people. I believe that
embarking on such a move will assist them get into all the sub regional

This will create jobs, enhance revenue and income for all the stakeholders
and also grow the economy of Ghana. I believe it’s a good move “he noted.

Meanwhile President of CPC shareholders Association, MR Sas George has
lauded the decision by government to support CPC with financial support to
operate. This he said will help improve the operations of the company and
also help increase profit. We believe that when such a support comes to CPC
it will improve the operations, realize profit and enable some of us, the
small shareholders have some dividends.” He added.

CPC, formerly wholly-owned by the state, is partially privatised after the
government offloaded 25% of its stake and listed it on the Ghana Stock
Exchange in February 2003.
The government owns about 48% of CPC’s shares, with state-run industry
regulator Ghana Cocoa Board controlling about 22%.
Kwabena Adu Koranteng

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