Cocoa, scientifically known as Theobroma cacao naturally exists in the Amazon Basin and Tropical areas of South and Central America. There is the belief it forms the basis of an extremely interesting rituals and social systems throughout the “New World”. The Mayans believed cocoa to be the food of the gods, hence, one of their most important sacred plants. Cocoa was introduced to Europe by Christopher Columbus who brought some back to Spain after his travels in the “New World”. This was in the fifteenth century. The Spanish kept cocoa a secret to themselves until Francis Drake captured Spanish galleons at sea. His crew, thinking the sacks of cocoa beans useless, threw them overboard.

History has it; cocoa cultivation began in Ghana in 1895, in connection with Tetteh Quarshie, a blacksmith, who returned from the island of Fernando Po (now Bioko) in Equatorial Guinea where there was extensive cultivation of “slave-grown” cocoa. The cocoa beans was not allowed out of the island. Tetteh Quarshie therefore had to swallow the beans in order to evade its detection from the various security checks. He returned to his farm in the Eastern Region of Ghana to plant them. Cocoa gradually became popular thereafter. Cocoa cultivation or production occurs in Ghana’s forest areas: Ashanti Region, Eastern Region, Western Region and Volta Region, where rainfall records to be about 1000 – 15000 millimeters.
Ghana is an indigenous agricultural nation with more than half of its population involved in agriculture. The land is blessed with a variety of natural resources, including; gold, bauxite, diamond, timber, and recently oil. In Ghana, several cash crops grown include oil palm, rubber and our heritage crop cocoa. Cocoa is Ghana’s most important agricultural commodity and remains the mainstay of the economy. It is Ghana's second leading foreign exchange earner, with about thirty percent (30%) of all revenue from exports. It accounts for about fifty-seven percent (57%) of all our agricultural export. The cocoa sector directly and indirectly employs about two (2) million people, and constitutes a large chunk of Ghana's GDP. Revenue from the cocoa sector has gone into the construction and maintenance of road infrastructure. Aside all the financial benefits of cocoa, it still provides numerous health benefits.

Can you imagine Ghana’s state if there was no cocoa industry? There would have been an outrage of unemployment than we are witnessing. The country would have lost huge revenue and foreign exchange, leading to a drastic shrink of the economy as well as the stalling of infrastructural development including health facilities. Ghana would have witnessed an unprecedented school dropouts, and in the long term, a drastic reversal in efforts to reduce poverty.

There is no doubt cocoa is the lifeblood of Ghana's economy and the heartbeat of Ghana's socio economic development. Ghana is indeed cocoa and cocoa is Ghana.

Source Magazine AGRI-CULTURE écrit par Jonathan SEMABIA

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