* Ghana, Ivory Coast aim to process more beans for stable revenue
* Stable power and high tariffs remain industry challenges
By Kwasi Kpodo
ACCRA, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Ghana and Ivory Coast need to focus more sharply on improving farmers’ incomes if they are to achieve initiatives to guarantee stable revenue from the commodity, the CEO of Swiss chocolatier Barry Callebaut said on Thursday.
The company, which last year launched a project to make its production entirely environmentally sustainable by 2025, plans to lift the incomes of 500,000 poor farmers and eradicate child labour.
Chief Executive Antoine de Saint-Affrique, whose company buys most of its cocoa from West Africa, said it is unclear whether a new initiative by the two countries to store and process more beans will achieve price stability.
Ghana and Ivory Coast produce more than 60 percent of global cocoa and Saint-Affrique said global prices are largely decided by trading companies.
“Whether what the governments are doing will be able to impact what the firms are doing, I don’t know,” he told Reuters in Accra.
Barry Callebaut runs a 65,000-tonne processing plant in Ghana, which grinds cocoa into semi-finished products. It has a trading subsidiary that buys raw cocoa from farmers for export through the Cocobod regulator.
The company invested $15 million in its Ghana operations last year and will remain consistent in the years ahead, Saint-Affrique said without giving specific figures.
He said that while cocoa processing capacity is bound to increase in West Africa, access to energy and stable electricity prices remained a challenge to the sector’s competitiveness.
The current quality gap between Ghana’s cocoa and Ivorian beans will “largely” remain, but Ghana must work harder to protect the crop against pollution from illegal mining activities. (Reporting by Kwasi Kpodo; Editing by David Goodman)