The Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod) has obtained $35m from China’s Eximbank to build a cocoa processing plant, and is now aiming to secure an additional $1.5bn to further advance cocoa production.

The estimated cost of the plant is $60m, with the remainder funded by the Ghanaian Government. According to Cocobod CEO Joseph Boahen Aidoo, the plant is expected to process more than 40,000t of cocoa beans each year and will be located in the Sefwi Wiawso region of western Ghana.

Aidoo said: “[The factory] will run through the entire course of producing butter, cake, liquor and chocolate bars. The conception of the new plant was timely and will further support the vision of the current government to transform Ghana into an industrialised nation.”

Further details of the construction of the new facility have not been disclosed.

Cocobod’s management team will also collaborate with a group of Chinese experts to determine the feasibility of the project, Chinese economic and commercial counsellor Chai Zhijing has said.

In a statement published on state media publication Xinhua, Zhijing said: “There are a lot of technical details involved in building a factory, which will be the basis for the final decision by the Chinese Government.”

Aidoo noted that if Cocobod manages to secure the extra $1.5bn investment from Eximbank, the board aims to rehabilitate diseased cocoa trees, and provide irrigation and build new warehouses to support farmers.

Ghana also sees the Asian market as the new target to sell its cocoa products, in a time of unstable global cocoa prices.

“The conventional cocoa market in Europe and America has become stagnant but there is a new consumption pattern emerging in Asia, especially in China which we seek to explore,” added Aidoo.

World Integrated Trade Solution data highlighted China as one of Ghana’s key trading partners. In 2016, Ghana exported $942m worth of products to China, surpassed only by United Arab Emirates ($1.43bn), India ($1.56bn), and Switzerland ($1.87bn).