Chief Executive of CocoBenz, Bender Owusu Bediako Antwi, says the coconut husk has great potential for the Ghanaian economy which must be harnessed to reduce poverty and promote prosperity of the country.
“For many Ghanaians, the coconut husk is a mere waste (bola), however, it has significant value addition. If food production falls in the next 20 years, young people will be hit the hardest.
Indeed, we need more young coconut producers, more young agriculture experts and more young coconut processors and market ownersto eradicate hunger and poverty.” he said.
Mr Antwi made these arguments in an interview with the Ghanaian Times after the launch of the 2nd International Coconut Festival, 2022, organised by Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) and the African Coconut Group, at Ampain in the Ellembelle District in the Western Region, last Friday.
It was on the theme “Repositioning Ghana’s coconut sector for accelerated industrialisation agenda.”
Mr Antwi, an advocate for youth in the coconut value chain, added, “Coconut peat, for example, is produced from coconut husk. It has been proven to serve many purposes such as nursing seedlings, bedding plants, planters, gardens, greenhouse farming and large-scale tree planting”.
He mentioned that a baseline survey conducted by the Coconut Waste Project (COWAP) revealed that there was a growing market for coco peat (mulch) fertiliser in Ghana.
The baseline report, he said, also indicated that key end-users of coconut waste value-added products included market actors in the mining sector, hospitality sector, and the agricultural/forestry sector.
Mr Antwi told the Ghanaian Times, “These actors consist of medium to large scale companies that rely on coconut waste value-added products in their line of activities. The hospitality industry serves as a market for coconut value-added products such as coconut-waste-paper-bags and charcoal briquettes.
“Many of the companies in the hospitality industry, including shops, malls and restaurants, rely mostly on the use of paper bags for packaging their products. This is their contribution to promoting a healthy and green environment.”
Besides, Mr Antwi noted that at a time when unemployment was skyrocketing in Ghana, the aggregation of coconut waste husk would be a good source of employment for the youth, and commended GEPA and partners for “such a good initiative to push the value chain in coconut.”
“Notwithstanding how lucrative the sale of the fresh coconut water and recycling of the husks, the coconut oil business is a profitable business. Coconut oil market finds applications in food, household detergents, metal working fluids, paints and coatings, soaps, textile chemicals, plastic industry, pharmaceuticals and cosmetic industry,” he said.
According to CocoBenz CEO, several women had ventured into the production of coconut oil, a steady source of their income making it possible to enrol their wards in school.
He told the Ghanaian Times that the involvement of youth in agriculture was vital because they were more energetic, productive and receptive to new ideas and advanced technologies, adding thatthey must not consider production alone, but also focus on value addition to get attention and generate revenue.
Mr Antwi again believed that the coconut sector must not dwell just on mass production, but value addition to become it attractive to earn the country more foreign exchange.
FROM CLEMENT ADZEI BOYE, AMPAIN