Ghana’s cocoa sector explores medicinal use of crops with major study partnership
Cocoa farming in Ghana and Ivory Coast remains a key industry (pic, ICAM)
Ghana’s Cocoa Board (Cocobod) has confirmed a joint project with the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (GAAS) exploring uses for cocoa beyond confectionery, examining examining its potential medicinal use helping treat infections and other diseases, reports Neill Barston.
As the country’s industry organisation noted, the work is part of the country’s drive to examine alternative uses for cocoa crops including within cosmetics in order to provide alternative revenues streams beyond the chocolate confectionery market, which remains its core target use.
The move comes as Ghana continues its goal towards significantly increasing levels of cocoa processing to around 50% of its annual average production of around 900,000 metric tonnes, to address the present situation in which roughly 80% of the country’s supplies are shipped directly to Europe for development into finished products.
According to Cocobod, an initial meeting between itself and the president of GAAS, it was acknowledged that there was a need to formally study potential health properties of cocoa, with the president of the academy, Professor Samuel Kofi Sefa-Dedeh, offering his backing for the joint venture.
Chief Executive of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, underlined the need to secure sufficient data to enable the plans to be progressed further.
He said: “Anecdotal reports alone are not sufficient. You cannot just go out there to say that cocoa has health and nutritional benefits when there’s no solid scientific basis or backing for what you are saying. However, if your statement is backed by robust scientific proof, then the world will also buy into it,” adding that forging links with the global scientific community would be crucial for enabling this potential market.
“We have to support the science community to delve deeper into the nutritional and health benefits of cocoa and then use the proven benefits to promote the consumption of cocoa, not only for Ghana or the sub-region but for the global community at large.”
Furthermore, Professor Samuel Kofi Sefa-Dedeh confirmed he agreed with Cocobod’s CEO that collaborative working across the sector would be necessary to drive effective change, but as noted there were challenges ahead that were impacting on progress towards greater levels of industrialisation in Ghana and economic growth in the region.