President John Agyekum Kufuor on Tuesday unveiled a plaque to inaugurate a 100-million-dollar cocoa processing factory at Tema with a call on cocoa farmers to increase their production.

Management of Cargill Ghana Limited Cocoa Processing Factory would process 65,000 tonnes of cocoa beans annually into high quality cocoa liquor, butter and powder for customers worldwide.

President Kufuor urged cocoa farmers to work hard to increase their production to enable them provide uninterrupted supply of quality cocoa beans to cocoa processing companies in the country.

He said even though cocoa production in the country had increased during the past eight years, farmers must strive to produce at least one million tonnes of cocoa beans annually to feed the ready market.

President Kufuor noted that Government was pursuing innovative measures to expand and turn the private sector into the fulcrum of the economy.

He said more people were investing in the country due to the improvement in the processes of acquiring the needed investment documents and prompt adjudication of commercial cases.

President Kufuor said the public sector was being reformed to facilitate the smooth operation of the private sector since a weak public sector was a disincentive for the private sector.

Mr Isaac Osei, Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) said it was determined to support the local processing companies to promote domestic processing of cocoa.

He said Ghana processes 298,000 tonnes of her annual cocoa production and exceeded her objective to locally process at least 40 per cent of the national output.

Mr Osei expressed COCOBOD’s determination to ensure that quality cocoa beans required by local processing companies were supplied to boost the industry.

He said Cargill’s presence in Ghana would lead to appreciable levels of job and wealth creation and add value to the country’s cocoa.

Mr Greg Page, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Cargill Incorporated said management had companies in 67 countries with 160,000 employees worldwide.

He said the factory which would complement the existing cocoa processing facility in Cote d’Ivoire would extend Cargill’s West Africa’s range of cocoa powder for customers to benefit from new colours and flavours from which cocoa products could be made.

Mr Page said the company had already provided employment to about 1,000 construction workers in addition to creating opportunities for Ghanaian cocoa farmers.

He said Cargill had also provided employment and training for about 200 employees in the plant.

Mr Leo Winters, Managing Director of Cargill Ghana Limited, said the company which was established in 1865 had been buying and processing Ghana’s cocoa beans.

He said the company’s experience in processing cocoa beans would contribute positively to sustainability of the Tema factory as well as help improve the high quality expectations associated with Ghana’s cocoa.

Source: GNA