Chocolate Day: Ghana’s Antidote to Sexual Immorality
As the world celebrates February as the month of love, Ghana, one of the world’s largest producers of cocoa since the year 2005 has taken a different course dedicating February as the month of Chocolate. A celebration intended to highlight Ghana’s unique cocoa based products and also place Ghana as the preferred destination for cocoa tourism while appreciating the contribution of the stakeholders within the industry.
A perfect national solution to keep the youth away from sex during the celebration of Valentine’s Day to the Consumption of chocolate and other cocoa based products.
Journalist (Right) & Farmer (Left) with cocoa beans in hands.
Ghana’s Cocoa and Chocolate
Ghana has gained global recognition for its unmatched reputation in producing top-tier cocoa of the finest quality, celebrated worldwide. This enviable niche has placed the country in a good position as a business destination among the cocoa producing fraternity. Over the years, successive administrations have made significant efforts to promote local consumption of cocoa. The country’s average consumption of cocoa and chocolate products has increased significantly from an average of 0.5 kilograms to 1.0 kilogram per capita as at the year 2023 as announced by the COCOBOD.
Chocolate Consumption, a Lifestyle
Cocoa is most commonly associated with chocolate and boasts a variety of nutritional benefits that confirms its positive health attributes. The cocoa bean is a rich source of dietary polyphenols, containing more beneficial antioxidants than most foods. Polyphenols are well-known for their association with beneficial health effects, making cocoa a valuable source of these compounds. Dark chocolate, which contains a high percentage of cacao and abundant antioxidants relative to other chocolate types, holds significant importance for health.
The benefits of consuming chocolate may include lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke, supporting cognitive function, and more. However, further research is necessary to fully understand these effects, as chocolate consumption can also have some negative health implications.
Currently, almost 80% of cocoa produced annually is exported in raw form. The government has announced its intention to implement policies that will ensure that at least 50% of Ghana’s cocoa beans are processed locally and consumed domestically. In line with this goal, a national cocoa consumption campaign has been intensified to encourage all Ghanaians to support local consumption.
This effort is further bolstered by the institutionalization of every February as the month for the promotion and consumption of Chocolate and other cocoa-based products.
Photo Credit: Cute love quotes for her
Valentine’s Day as National Chocolate Day in Ghana
The Chocolate Day, also known as National Chocolate Day, is a celebration instituted by the Ghana Tourism Authority in 2005 to coincide with Valentine’s Day. This annual celebration, earmarked for the 14th of February, aims to boost the domestic consumption of Ghanaian chocolate and other cocoa-based products.
It also seeks to promote domestic tourism and provide a healthy orientation to the celebration of Valentine’s Day as well as shift the attention of the youth from engaging in sexual activities towards showcasing love to their loved ones through the gift of chocolate. The activity was instituted by the Ghana Tourism Authority in partnership with the Cocoa Processing Company of Ghana. The idea originated as part of the Ghana@50 celebrations by the then Minister of Tourism, the late Jake Obetsebi Lamptey.
World Chocolate Day, sometimes referred to as International Chocolate Day, or just Chocolate Day, is an annual celebration of chocolate, occurring globally on the 7th day of July every year. This celebration is used to mark what many have come to accept as the anniversary of the introduction of chocolate to Europe in 1550.
Journey to the Cocoa Land
As a significant source of foreign exchange in Ghana, cocoa channels revenue into development across diverse sectors of the Ghanaian economy. Reflecting on what makes cocoa such a sought-after fruit and its value as the base material for the production of chocolate, I began to ponder cocoa, chocolates, and cocoa-related products, and how it all begins. Who are the farmers? Where are they located? How is cocoa planted? What are the processes cocoa beans go through before being processed into chocolate?
To satisfy to my curiosity and that of other curious minds, I embarked on a 9-hour journey from Accra to Kumikrom, a cocoa-growing community around Sefwi-Bekwai in the Western North Region of Ghana.
In my farm attire, I accompanied George Japong to his 160-hectare cocoa farm. My purpose was to gain a comprehensive understanding of cocoa farming and processing.
60-year-old George Japong narrated to me the various processes involved in obtaining standard cocoa beans for cocoa processing. He explained that cocoa trees demand a specific environment, including warm temperatures, high humidity, and well-distributed rainfall. According to the farmer, he invests time and expertise in maintaining these conditions, ensuring the health and productivity of his crops adding that it takes several years for cocoa trees to reach maturity and start bearing fruits.
Mr. Japong (Left) & Journalist (Right).
“The heart of cocoa production lies in the harvesting of cocoa pods. These football-shaped pods contain the precious cocoa beans enveloped in a sweet, white pulp,” he continued that “Farmers carefully cut the pods from the trees, skillfully avoiding damage to the delicate beans within. Once harvested, the cocoa beans are removed from the pods and left to ferment. After fermentation, the beans undergo a drying process, where they are spread out in the sun.”
Farmer (Left) & Journalist (Right), drying cocoa beans.
Having this conversation with Mr. Japong and also appreciating his contribution towards the production of cocoa, I kept asking myself if he has ever tasted the bar called chocolate that is produced out of the beans he produces on his farm.
The journey of cocoa beans culminates in the global chocolate industry, where manufacturers transform them into the delectable treats loved by people worldwide. The demand for high-quality cocoa has led to collaborations between chocolate companies and cocoa farmers, promoting fair wages and sustainable farming practices. Cocoa generates export revenues, income, and provides employment to millions around the globe. It plays a crucial role in the confectionery, food, and beverage industries, and more recently, in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.
Threats to Cocoa Production
With its contribution to Ghana’s development and as the base raw material for the production of the chocolate we all love, the country’s cocoa production sector is under serious threat with climate change, illegal mining, diseases, moribund farms, overaged tree stock, an aging farmer population, and an acute labor shortage.
A Global Call for the Cocoa Farmer
A report by the United Nations conference on Trade and Development published in 2016 examines consolidation patterns in the cocoa industry and their potential impacts on stakeholders along the value chain, in particular small cocoa farmers who constitute the backbone of cocoa production worldwide. The report also discusses these farmers’ integration into world cocoa markets, highlighting some critical issues they face. The report was under the theme: cocoa industry: integrating small scale farmers into the global value chain. These activities are in line with the United Nations sustainable development goal 8 which seeks to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
Photo Credit: Britannica
Ghana stands as the land of rich cocoa, where resilient farmers like George Japong contributes to the nation’s agricultural backbone.
Next time you indulge in a piece of chocolate, take a moment to appreciate the labor of cocoa farmers who work tirelessly to bring sweetness to our lives. Their dedication, coupled with sustainable practices and ethical initiatives, ensures that the journey from cocoa farm to chocolate bar is not only delicious but also supports the livelihoods of those at the heart of this bittersweet journey.
As Ghana prepares for the upcoming Valentine’s Day, the importance of sustaining and investing in the cocoa industry remains evident.
Feature Image Credit: Pinterest