NICHE COCOA TO DOUBLE CAPACITY WITH US$18M REINVESTMENT
Indigenous cocoa processing company, Niche Cocoa, is investing US$18 million to expand its processing capacity from 30,000 tonnes per annum to 60,000 tonnes.
The move forms part of the company’s aim to process more cocoa beans and reach more markets in the near future.The Chief Executive Officer of the company, Mr Edmund Poku, told the Daily Graphic that o help make this a reality, the company was already at the verge of clinging a supply deal in Trinidad and Tobago that will allow it to export to that country.
He disclosed this after members of the board of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) toured some processing factories in the Tema Free Zones Enclave.
As part of plans to expand, he said the company had also begun works on establishing a confectionary factory in order to increase its production of finished products such as cocoa powder, chocolate, chocolate spread and chocolate drinks.
This is also expected to create more employment opportunities where over 250 people are already working.
Mr Poku also pointed out that in a bid to reduce its cost of operation, the company had invested in the installation of a shell boiler to replace the diesel boilers which require huge amount of money to run.
Appeal to government
With the expansion of its processing capacity to 60,000 tonnes, Mr Poku noted that the company would now need about US$ 120 million as capital expenditure at the beginning of every year.
As a local processing company, he said it was very difficult to raise that amount from its local banks, “so some sort of financing will be needed to be able to mitigate some of our financing needs.”
“We are, however, grateful to the government for the support we have enjoyed so far. Being inside the free zones has really helped us a lot because we have tax exemptions for the first 10 years and we have stable electricity as well,” he stated.
“We are also buying the light crops at a discount and that provides us with all we need to be successful,” he added.
The government has made a commitment of raising production levels of cocoa to at least one million tonnes and to process more than 50 per cent of the cocoa beans in the country.
This is expected to enable the country derive maximum benefits and value from the commodity and make the sector lucrative.
It is for this reason that the board of COCOBOD visited the processing factories to find out about their challenges and how the government could help.
The Chairman of the Board of COCOBOD, Mr Hackman Owusu Agyemang assured management of Niche Cocoa of its readiness to work with them to address their challenges.
“The total capacity available in the nation equals the 50 per cent processing that we are targeting but because they are not getting the light crops, they are not able to take it to that level so we will do all we can to help them meet their full capacity,” he assured.
He thus announced plans to discount the main crop beans for the processors to serve as motivation for them to increase their level.