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is very efficient. The first purchase is undertaken by itinerant buyers who visit villages during the cocoa buying season. In practice, only modest attention is paid to the levels of defects along the marketing chain and a considerable degree of blending of good quality and poor quality cocoa takes place at almost every stage. Cocoa from Côte d'Ivoire is clearly of better flavour quality than most cocoas from Asia (which are affected by the problem of acidic off-flavours and it appears that a high percentage is presently destined for cocoa butter extraction, rather than for chocolate production directly; this seems set to continue).

Ghana cocoa normally sells at a significant premium compared to all other bulk cocoas as on pure flavour grounds, cocoa from Ghana is much in demand. However, Ghana also has an excellent reputation for all the other intrinsic factors mentioned earlier, contributing to premia. Some of these matters are handled with rather less care by other cocoa origins and their prices would tend to be discounted versus those of Ghana because of that. The excellent physical quality and the almost certain absence of any off-flavours in Ghana cocoa make it especially well suited to chocolate production, in particular for the manufacture of milk chocolate, which tends have a very mild flavour. Many chocolate manufacturers in Japan, UK and USA rely on Ghana cocoa to impart its characteristic flavour to their chocolate.

Since colonial times in Ghana, cocoa has always been purchased through a system of fixed buying centres open at regular hours and located in villages. The cocoa farmers in Ghana can thus conveniently sell their cocoa when it suits them and when it is correctly dried to 7.5% moisture, thus removing a pressure seen elsewhere. This is a major reason why very little Ghana cocoa of poor or even marginal quality is produced. Elsewhere at the time of visits of itinerant buyers, farmers sometimes have to sell cocoa damp, as they need cash but are concerned that the buyer may not return for a few more days. In Ghana, the quality is officially checked in the centres (and each bag is sealed) before being moved and the quality is reconfirmed as it moves to the port and prior to loading for export, all of which is under Ghana Government control3.

Until 1986, Nigerian cocoa had a quality reputation equivalent to that of Ghana, assured by a very similar system of cocoa quality control, then operated by a similar government monopoly. Hasty liberalisation of cocoa marketing (under World Bank pressure), involvement of hundreds of inexperienced cocoa buyers and inadequate attention to the continued need for a system of cocoa

3 Quality control of Ghana cocoa is taken seriously. Firstly, there is the quality examination carried out by the buying clerk at the time of first purchase of the cocoa from the farmer, then there is an examination in the buying centre by the produce inspector from the Quality Control Division (a wholly owned subsidiary of the Cocoa Marketing Company) who seals the bag after a quality check. This seal enables anyone to identify the inspector who examined that cocoa, the date and the buying centre in which the bag was first sealed. As the cocoa moves into, or out of, the regional up-country store and the port warehouse, it will be given a confirmatory quality check.

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