Cameroon and Ghana joined the “fine cocoa” producers list of the International Cocoa Organization, ICCO. The two nations were added during a meeting held from June 13 to 14, 2023, in Antananarivo, Madagascar.
The news was disclosed by Cameroon’s Minister of Trade, Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana.
Besides the newcomers, only two other African countries are members of the very “selective club”: Madagascar and Sao Tomé & Principe. The club, Atangana stressed, was “only reserved to South American countries in the past.”
“Fine cocoa refers, in particular, to what is called organoleptic qualities, i.e., having a very good taste, a very good aroma. The best comparison is with wine. There are grand crus and table wines. What makes the quality of fine cocoa is what we call the upbringing, that is, post-harvest treatment. So, just about any bean can become fine cocoa. What matters is the treatment, the producer’s or his cooperative’s ability to ferment and dry well,” said Michel Arrion, the Executive Director of the ICCO.
Commenting on its adhesion, Minister Atangana added that Cameroon’s efforts over the past decade to boost its cocoa’s quality paid off. These efforts, steered by the government and the Cocoa-Coffee Interprofessional Organization, involve trying to eliminate the smell of smoke in Cameroonian cocoa, which is mainly harvested in the Southwest region, democratizing good agricultural practices, building post-harvest treatment centers in production basins, negotiating strategic trade deals with world-known chocolatiers, and giving bonuses to farmers who produce good cocoa.
Cameroon’s admission to ICCO’s fine cocoa producers list should, according to Luc Magloire Atangana, “improve the market quotation of the Cameroonian beans, and subsequently, raise producer prices”. The official noted, however, that the ICCO has not yet set the volume of beans that Cameroon can export under the “fine cocoa” label (in Madagascar, it is 100%).