This paper discusses Ghana’s cocoa industry from the innovation systems perspective. Cocoa is the major cash crop of Ghana. Its importance is not only in the contribution of about 25% annually of the total foreign exchange earnings but also on account of being the source of livelihoods for many rural farmers and the related actors in the value chain. The critical actors in the innovation system are the farmers, the researchers, the buyers, the transporters, public officers, consumers and the policy makers. By the roles and functions they perform, they impact on the dynamics of the cocoa industry. The paper describes the trends in cocoa production and processing and highlights the key characteristics and implications. It discusses the policy reforms in the cocoa industry and the major drivers of the reforms. The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) is one of the biggest public institutions in Ghana and its subsidiaries are major actors in the production process of cocoa for export. The key reforms in the policies governing the industry were the dissolution of the monopoly of Produce Buying Company and the deregulation of cocoa purchasing to allow Licensed Buying Companies (LBCs) to enter the business in 1992/93 crop season. There was also the dismantling and re-organization of the Cocoa Services Division into two separate units—the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease Control Unit (CSSVDCU) and the Seed Production Unit (SPU). The processing of cocoa into cocoa butter, cocoa paste and confectioneries is an important component of the value chain especially with the national goal of processing 50% of cocoa before export. The paper discusses policy implementation in the cocoa industry underscoring the successes and failures. It highlights lessons for other primary commodity producing countries especially those whose development contexts are similar to Ghana’s.
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