13 March 2002

Ghana: Cocoa, Coffee Summit Opens

The West African Coffee and Cocoa Summit 2002 would be held at the headquarters of the International Cocoa and Coffee Organisation (ICCO), London, from 14th to 15th March to, among other things, discuss how to correct the negative effects of liberalisation of the industry.

The event would bring together producers and government representatives from West Africa to work out strategies for a vibrant cocoa industry for the 21st Century to ensure that benefits come to producer countries in the long term.

Official organisers of the event said it was imperative to introduce robust institutions and systems in every area of production, marketing and distribution from small-scale producers through to quality assurance, storage, finance, dissemination of market information, export and shipment.

Experts on warehousing, quality, legal matters and the development of co-operatives in West Africa would be present to answer questions from all quarters at the Summit.

Helen Cokerr, Co-ordinator of Day Robison, organisers of the event, told the Ghana News Agency from London that senior industry representatives from the international coffee and chocolate sectors would discuss the latest approaches to meeting social and environmental standards and present their views on an industry-wide commitment to quality and sustainability.

"Extensive coverage will be at policy, local and industry levels," she said.

Ghana, the world's third largest producer after Cote d'Ivoire and Brazil would be represented by Major Courage Quashigah (rtd), Minister of Food and Agric.

Mr Kwame Sarpong, Chief Executive, Ghana Cocoa Board and Thomas Kubi, Chief Executive of the ECOWAS Commodity Exchange, would also be present.

Cocoa has for decades been the mainstay of Ghana's economy. Production for the 1996/97-crop year was 322,488 tonnes, rising to 409,382 tonnes in 1997/98.

This slipped to 397,675 tonnes in 1998/99, rising to 436,946 in 1999/2000 and then slumping again to 389,800 tonnes in 2000/2001-crop year.

Total value of cocoa exports to the UK in 1996/97 was 79.3 million dollars, hitting 122.8 million dollars in 1997/98 and 153.7 million cedis in 1998/99.

The value slumped to 36.7 million dollars in 1999/2000 and rose slightly to 63.6 million dollars in 2000/2001.

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