The Export of Cocoa from Ghana

The Republic of Ghana gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1957, and it has quickly become one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Located in western Africa, Ghana is home to some of the world's most valuable mineral deposits. Recent oil exploration has also discovered huge reserves of oil in the country; a discovery that will secure the financial independence of Ghana for several generations. However, it is the production and export of cocoa beans that has historically been the most important source of income for Ghana and its people. This growing and relatively prosperous country is still the world's second largest producer of cocoa.

Ghana's cocoa production is now in excess of four million tonnes per year, and the country's output is still growing in the midst of falling African production. The production of cocoa beans is thought to employ more than 1,5 million Ghanaians. Despite increasing exports of oil, gold and bauxite, cocoa is still the single-most important commodity to the country's economy. However, the history of Ghana's exporting of cocoa has not always involved such success. A combination of falling prices, drought and political problems almost stopped production completely during the 1980s. Farmers were struggling to make ends meet in the midst of collapsing commodity prices. However, intervention from the International Monetary Fund allowed the country to recover during the 1990s. Indeed, Ghanaian cocoa production doubled between the years of 2001 and 2003.

Part of Ghana's enduring success in the production and exporting of cocoa beans must be attributed to the Ghana Cocoa Board. Established in 1947, the organisation is responsible for quality control, the welfare of farmers, the protection of the environment and the stabilisation of commodity prices. The success of the board led to it becoming responsible for the production and worldwide marketing of Ghanaian coffee. It also oversees research into new production, harvesting and irrigation techniques. The Ghana Cocoa Board is also responsible for the issuing of expert licences to individual farms. All producers must prove they have been selling cocoa to the domestic market for at least two years before an export licence can be issued. They must also be capable of delivering a minimum of ten thousand tonnes of beans every year. Representatives from the board will also visit each farm to ensure that the facilities and expertise in operation are of the highest standard. These checks ensure that all of Ghana's cocoa exports are high in quality; preserving the reputation of the country as one of the world's leading cocoa producers.

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