ACCRA — African Development Bank (AfDB) President Dr Akinwumi Adesina has called for a more aggressive push towards agro-industrialization by African governments so as to drive sustainable economic growth on thecontinent.

It is time the continent moves to the top of the global food value chain by adding value to what it has been producing, Adesina said in a statement received here Monday.

Referring to the enormous benefits Africa stood to enjoy through the processing of raw cocoa beans into chocolate, he noted that the continent now received just about five per cent of the 100 billion US dollars of the annual chocolate value.

With experts predicting that the demand for chocolate is most likely to continue, he said this was a huge opportunity which should be seized by the cocoa producer countries.

Africa accounts for about 75 per cent of the world’s cocoa production, with Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana being the top two producers, but has not been able to cut for itself a bigger slice of the global chocolate market value because it has just been exporting the raw beans.

The statement said the situation should radically change and that the leading producers could not continue to be stuck at the bottom of the value chain, dominated instead of dominating.

African farmers sweat, while others eat sweets. While the price of cocoa has hit an all-time low, profits of global manufacturers of chocolate have hit an all-time high. It’s time to process Africa’s cocoa in Africa, and end Africa being at the bottom of the global value chain, the statement said.

The AfDB has been leading a call to action for Africa to agro-industrialize and says this is the key to economic transformation. Africa must not be locked at the bottom – it must rapidly add value to what it leads the world in producing.

It should start producing chocolate to compete with Belgium, Switzerland, United States, France and the others. This is the way forward to bring in more money, boost production and provide job opportunities.

The Bank’s call reinforces the significance of recently signed cocoa agreement between Ghana and Cote D’ Ivoire – the Abidjan Declaration, which seeks to better the pricing regime, harmonize cocoa marketing policies, intensify collaboration in the field of scientific research and processing of the raw beans for consumption locally, regionally and internationally.