China exporting cocoa is a cause for concern to Africa – Ghana Cocoa Board official

A senior officer with Ghana’s cocoa board raises concerns regarding China’s export of its first ever cocoa beans to Belgium. The first beans which weighed 500 kg was valued at about $3,600.

Mr. Fiifi Boafo, Public Affairs Manager of COCOBOD said during an interview on citi business news that, the Asian country’s venture into cocoa production could force a drastic reduction in cocoa prices in the mark market. 

“It’s been of concern, a concern in the sense that generally the cocoa market has been saturated and consumption does not seem to be growing as fast as production of cocoa so any new addition in terms of production is a matter of concern because higher production without commensurate consumption will force the price of cocoa downwards.” he said. 

However, he acknowledged the fact that, even though there is a possibility of downwards effects on price of the product, China does not stand the chance to compete with Africa in terms of quantity. He believes this limitation owes much to the geographic disadvantage Africa has over China.

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“The concern has to do with the fact that, would China be able to produce in large quantities and be commercially viable? I ask because if you look at cocoa production generally, it grows in places where you have for example between 10 degrees north and 10 degrees south of the equator where the climate temperature ranges between 18-32 degrees Celsius with rainfall of about 1500 mm to about 2000 mm. China and the specific place we are talking about does not have that geographical location.” the Ghanaian official added.

Hao Zhaoyun, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences (CATAS), an institution which revealed the first export to Belgium by South China’s island province of Hainan stated that, “Cocoa is a raw material for making chocolate. With the increasing demand for chocolates, Hainan has been expanding its cocoa planting area and making breakthroughs in technological development.”

He added that, the fact that, Belgium of all countries accepted their beans is enough proof of the quality of their cocoa. “As Belgium is dubbed ‘kingdom of chocolates,’ exports to the country indicate that our cocoa production standards have been recognized by the international community.”

Even though this news was widely received by the Chinese community as a good one which will add to the countries status and also increase revenue, some African scholars and activists are mounting a fierce criticism against the rate at which some Chinese nationals are engaging in illegal mining in African countries, even to the extent of destroying cocoa plantations in search of gold and also using dangerous chemicals to mine, resulting in the pollution of the soil and water bodies. 

Their concerns were equally centered around certain critical perspectives. Can an African cut down a cocoa three in China and move around with the impunity with which they d so in Africa? What happens to the fertility of Africa’s soils to support cocoa and other crop production in the future if this activity is allowed to persist? Is there a possibility of China taking over from Africa in terms of cocoa production?

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