Many Ghanaians when asked who first introduced cocoa to Ghana would not hesitate in answering that it is Tetteh Quarshie a Ga who hails from Osu in Accra. Tetteh Quarshie travelled to the Fernando Po Island where he worked as a blacksmith. Upon returning to Ghana in 1879, he brought with him cocoa pods known as “AMELONADE” and planted them on his farm at Mampong (Akwapim).
Although Tetteh Quarshie is credited with the introduction of cocoa into the then Gold Coast, records have it that the Dutch missionaries planted cocoa in the coastal belt of Ghana as far back as 1815. The Basel missionaries also planted cocoa in Aburi – Eastern Region in 1857. The people of Gold Coast embraced cocoa farming wholeheartedly and within a few years, its production had spread from the Eastern Region to Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Central and the Western Region.
The first export of cocoa from the Gold Coast took place in 1885 and by 1908, Ghana export had reached 20,000 metric tons. Ghana attained the Number One status in the production of cocoa in 1911 with 41,000 tons. In the 1920s, production increased to between 165,000 and 213,000 tons. Ghana’s contribution to the world’s total output then was 40%. Between 1976 and 1977, cocoa started experiencing a fall in its production.
Production began to decline between 1976 and 1977 due to the outbreak of pests and diseases like the capsid and swollen shoot viral disease and falling prices until it reached a 63 year low of 158,000mt in 1983/84.
From the early years until the late 1930’s the local merchants were the ones controlling the cocoa trade in the Gold Coast. Companies like the U.A.C., Paterson and Zochonis (PZ), G.B. Olivant, UTC, Cadbury and Fry as well as J. Lyons were importing foods into the Gold Coast and purchasing farm products such as coffee, cocoa, kennels, rubber and palm oil for export overseas.
All, however, was not smooth sailing. Difficulties arose as a result of Cadbury and Fry emphasizing on quality to lower prices and also supporting expansion of farms in various ways. This action did not go down well with other local merchant companies as they assumed Cadbury and Fry were monopolizing the industry. In 1937, farmers went on strike and refused to sell their cocoa on the grounds of low price for their produce.
The outcome of these developments resulted in the establishment of the Cocoa Marketing Board (CMB) in 1947 to provide marketing services to farmers. The Produce Buying Agency was given monopoly over the internal marketing of cocoa in the country in 1977. The sector was however liberalized in 1992 as a result of a World Bank policy. This led to the licensing of many companies (LBCs) including Kuapa Kokoo to do the internal marketing of cocoa.
The Cocoa Marketing Company performs the external marketing of cocoa.
Ghana’s cocoa pricing has witnessed some changes over the years. Beginning from 1947 when the Cocoa Marketing Board (CMB) was established, together with Cocoa Marketing Company (CMB) to advise the Government as to what price to pay to the farmers every year, taking into consideration the world price and local factors.
At the moment pricing of cocoa is done by a committee known as Producer Price Review Committee (PPRC) which meets quarterly to review the cocoa prices payable to our farmers. This committee comprises of Government, Cocobod, LBCs and farmers representatives.