Ghana, the world's number two cocoa producer, in a bid to boost domestic consumption of cocoa and chocolate, is celebrating its second national Chocolate Day on February 14, better known in most of the world as Valentine's Day.
The idea is to "emphasize the significance of chocolate and cocoa in the expression of the spirit of love, gift-giving, health" and to celebrate "Ghana's enviable position in the global cocoa industry" Tourism Minister Steven Asamoah-Boateng said Wednesday.
AdvertisementGhanaians make a big thing of Valentine's Day, giving cards and gifts to their partners. Radio stations aimed at young people discuss little else for several days.
Religious leaders in Ghana tend to see Valentine's day as encouraging immorality and make regular calls on young people to abstain from casual sex and for married people to remain faithful to their partners.
Ghana's only chocolate manufacturer, Cocoa Processing Company (CPC), has placed adverts on TV and in newspapers urging people to celebrate Valentine's Day with chocolate.
CPC is anticipating a boom in sales.
"The essence of the chocolate day is to take advantage of and promote what we have here in Ghana. Our brands are one of the best in terms of quality," public relations manager, James Ekow Rhule, told AFP.
"This year, we are looking at an over-production of 500 metric tonnes," similar to 2007's extra production for Chocolate Day, he said.
On the streets of Accra, many believe that the idea of a Chocolate Day celebration is a good one.
"People have been hiding behind the celebrations to do all sort of things... You go out there and you see young girls engaging in illicit sex," computer technician James Quayson told AFP.
He said he supports the idea of chocolate day, as a way both of promoting more moral behaviour and of supporting one of Ghana's key industries.
Gina Lartey, who runs a gift shop in Tema, outside Accra, said she is selling both local and foreign chocolates but fears the foreign-made ones may attract more buyers as they are better packaged for the occasion.
Buyers who are strapped for cash might settle for the cheaper Ghanaian brands, she conceded.