By BUSINESS DESK September 16, 2019 842 2 comments

The Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) says it is estimated that Ghana could earn US$2.8 billion from the coconut industry by 2021 if efforts to improve production, processing and exports are successful.

In line with the government’s drive to promote cash crops other than cocoa through its Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) initiative, GEPA and the African Coconut Group are organising the first-ever international coconut festival to expose some of the hidden benefits of coconut and how Ghana can earn foreign exchange from it.

Scaling up

Speaking to the media at the unveiling of ambassadors for the campaign in Accra, Ruth Maafo, director of public relations at GEPA, said the festival is scheduled to take place between September 24 and 26 this year.

It is expected to bring together stakeholders in the coconut industry from across the globe to forge links with Ghanaian farmers, make them globally competitive and help them gain better value for their produce.

“The festival gives us a platform to interact more to network along the value chain, and once we know more about what you can derive from coconut, people are going to develop other … revenue streams that, if they were doing it on a small scale, they wouldn’t have got,” Mrs Maafo said.

She added that the Africa Continental Free Trade Area agreement will also give a major boost to exporting coconuts across Ghana’s borders.

“Coconut is regarded as a tropical fruit, and once the agreement is in place and we’re able to go through other countries without barriers, then, of course, it is another opportunity for us to sell as much as we want,” she said. “So it’s just another area for us to promote the crop.”

Untapped benefits

Meanwhile, a director of the African Coconut Group, Kwaku Boateng, told reporters that many of the benefits of coconut remain untapped.

“[Three hundred and twelve million dollars’ worth of] coconut water was sold … in the United States in 2012 because of the nutritional benefits we derive from the water. Coconut creams and soaps clear scars and baldness, cure Parkinson’s disease and breast lumps, boost the immune system and fight cancerous diseases, amongst other things,” he said.

Mr Boateng, who has researched coconuts for the past 20 years, shed light on the shell of the fruit. It is used to “manufacture charcoal, which can further be converted to active carbon, used in the mining industry to extract gold from the soil due to its high absorptive qualities”, he said. “And a kilo is worth about $1,200.”

The husk also contains an element of fibre, used to make doormats and mattresses. Coconut peat is likened to organic fertiliser; it is used to plant crops during the dry season and also as a growth medium in greenhouses.

“These same husks have the fibre, which can be converted to manufacture car seats. You take Benz, for instance: some of the seats inside are manufactured with coconut husks.

“Not forgetting the whole tree, which can be used for lumber. When we are able to increase the raw material base, then all the other benefits we are talking about will come to bear,” Mr Boateng said.

Oil into diesel

“If you go to Brazil, they’ve manufactured about ten million cars which use biodiesel made from coconut,” Mr Boateng told reporters. “And in the Solomon Islands, there [are parts] of the islands that use coconut oil as diesel to generate electricity.”

In conclusion, he demonstrated how coconut can reduce unemployment, citing how it has transformed lives in the Philippines.

“If you go to the Philippines, and the statistics are there, the coconut industry has employed about 35 million people in the whole value chain. And I always ask myself: what is the population of Ghana?” he said.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 24 September 2019 11:42


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