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Free cocoa beverages for basic schools

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Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum (middle) with Edmund Poku (right) and Divine Ayizoe after the signing of the Memorandum of understanding in Accra

Niche Confectionery Ghana Limited has sealed a deal with the Ministry of Education to supply enriched ready-to-drink cocoa beverages to basic school children across the country.

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed last week, allowing Niche Confectionery Ghana to supply its ready-to-drink beverages to 1.8 million primary school children in cocoa growing communities, before extending it to more than 5.6 million children across the country.

Minister of Education, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, signed the MoU on behalf of his outfit, while the Chief Executive Officer of Niche Cocoa Industry Limited, Edmund Poku, signed for the confectionery maker.

The agreement is in line with President Akufo-Addo’s vision of ensuring that every Ghanaian child has access to chocolate.

It also represents a big push for the cocoa sector, as it sets the tone for increased domestic processing and consumption of cocoa.

The actualisation of the MoU enables Niche Confectionery Ghana to increase its domestic processing of beans, in line with the government’s efforts to process 50 per cent of Ghana’s total production.

It also aims to develop and sustain a cocoa consumption culture to help ensure that more of Ghana’s cocoa is consumed locally.

Adutwum Excited

The Minister of Education said, after signing the MoU that, the nutrition of every child in school remained one of the priorities of government and the ministry.

“This is why I am happy to sign an MOU between Niche Confectionery Ghana and the Ministry of Education. The MOU will allow Niche Confectionery to distribute chocolate beverages to primary school children in selected public schools across the country, with preference given to cocoa growing communities,” the Education Minister said.

“This partnership will help make President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s vision of ensuring that every child has access to a cocoa beverage a reality,” he added.

Niche’s Business Plan

Managing Director (MD) of Niche Confectionery Ghana, Gladys Amoah, said in an interview that the company’s business plan aligned well with the President’s and the government’s vision of giving Ghanaian children access to Ghanaian cocoa-based products.

Mrs. Amoah said the parent company had a vision of improving the consumption of cocoa by adding value to the cocoa beans, and translating that into consumer-ready products.

“The government is looking to drive the implementation of the School Feeding Programme, and has the intention of feeding 5.6 million children one meal a day for 100 school days. President Akufo-Addo has a further vision of ensuring that every child has access to a cocoa beverage, which is aligned to our vision to improve the consumption of cocoa in Ghana,” she said.

Mrs. Amoah noted that the company aimed to achieve this while having a positive impact on the economy, as well as key communities where cocoa was sourced.

She said the company, which already sells a range of chocolate bars in the market, had successfully launched a range of enriched ready-to-drink chocolate drinks, and was now about to add a range of powdered chocolate and chocolate spreads to the list.

“It is fortified with B vitamins, and has added minerals such as Zinc and Iron that support child development. The business has considered how it could be involved in supplying the chocolate beverage to children, and it is this desire that has led to the signing of the MoU between Niche Confectionery Ghana and the Ministry of Education,” the MD said.

“Having a meal at breakfast supports cognition, especially among undernourished children. The World Food Programme has calculated that, for every one cedi invested in feeding a child, you yield GH¢3.3 in return,” she added.

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