ACCRA– Ghana and China have formed a partnership to set up a 60 million US dololars cocoa processing factory as part of plans to increase local processing of cocoa and boost its consumption, says Joseph Boahen Aidoo, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD).

Speaking ahead of a meeting here Wednesday with a team from China to discuss the project, Aidoo said the factory, which would be sited at Sefwi-Wiaso in Western Region (Province), was a partnership between the Chinese and the Ghana governments.

He said China was providing a grant of 35 million USD towards the building of the factory which will have a capacity to process 40,000 tonnes of cocoa a year while Ghana would contribute 25 million towards the project.

An eight-member team from China is currently in the country to conduct feasibility studies at the site in Sefwi Wiaso.

The establishment of the factory is very significant as there is a rising consumption pattern of chocolate in the Asian countries, particularly India and China, Aidoo said, adding t it was Cocobod’s aim to enter the Asian market, focusing essentially on China.

So the acceptance of the Chinese Government to partner with Ghana government to put up this factory actually is a major step in realizing our objective and our vision of expanding the scope of consumption of cocoa and also in the realisation of the President’s vision that in the next four to five years Ghana should be able to process not less than 50 per cent of our cocoa beans here in Ghana, he said.

Aidoo said the proposed factory would run be involved in the production of cocoa butter and liquor down to the tertiary level, which was the production of chocolate.

Ghana currently has an installed cocoa processing capacity of 450,000 tonnes was processing only about 250,000 tonnes annually

Meanwhile Cocobod is seeking 1.5 billion USD from China’s Export-Import bank (Eximbank) to rehabilitate aged farms and install irrigation systems and other projects for the cocoa sector.

Chai Zhijing, the Economic and Commercial Counsellor at the Chinese Embassy in Accra, said the team undertaking the feasibility study would work out the details for the Chinese Government.