Cocoa export: Africa has been stupid since 1863 – Akin Adesina

The President of Africa Development Bank (AFDB), Akin Adesina, says Africa has been ignorantly exporting raw materials and importing finished goods.

Adesina said this while speaking at the closing press conference of the annual meeting of the bank in Ahmedabad, India, The Cable reports.

“Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire produce about 65% of world’s cocoa yet when CNN took chocolate to cocoa farmers, the farmers did not recognise the chocolate,” he said.

“For way too long, the reason agriculture has not worked in Africa is that Africa was content with taking peanuts from others. Africa was content with not being a big player in what it produces so Africa exported cocoa to others and imports chocolate and all the other things.

“I walked into a store in Belguim and the shop owner asked for my opinion of their company saying they had been in business since 1863. I said your company is doing a good job of making chocolate but Africa has been doing a stupid thing since 1863; selling cocoa ad importing everything else it doesn’t produce.”

“The time has come for Africa to turn into profitable products, what it produces. Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire, transform the cocoa, what is the brain surgery in making chocolate and other cocoa drinks? That has to change.

“We have to modernise the sector, we have been doing the same thing we have been doing since independence. AFDB will be investing 24 billion into the sector over the next 10 years.

“Farmers are subsistent not by choice but because they don’t have access to technology and finance. All farmers want to have good housing and send their children to school. If small holder farmers of India were able to give India a green revolution, why can’t African farmers do same?

“The difference is that the Indian farmers were boldly supported. For way too long in Africa, the farmers have been abandoned. It is time for bold policies that will provide subsidies for farmers in a smart way.”

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