The Research Department of the Quality Control Company Limited is established to develop and provide systematic strategies that will ensure the supply of pest free cocoa with acceptable pesticide residue levels to both local and international markets. With its research and monitoring activities relating to the physical, entomological, microbiological, nutritional and biochemical attributes of dried cocoa beans, it is mandated to provide technical advice based on state-of-the-art technologies that ensure the exportation of quality cocoa on the world market. These functions support the policies and mission of the Quality Control Company Limited (QCC) of the Ghana Cocoa Board which aims at the exportation of premium quality cocoa that consistently meets or exceeds customer satisfaction. The Research Laboratory is based in Tema in the Greater Accra Region and has two substations in Tarkoradi and Kaase Inland Ports in the Western and Ashanti Regions respectively. The operations of the Research Department are seated in five functional units namely, Physical, Entomology, Microbiology, Biochemical and Metrology Units. Each of these units conducts monitoring and research activities of interest to the cocoa trade.
The Unit monitors biochemical attributes of dry cocoa nib and shells by analyzing its fat content, free fatty acid levels, pH as well as total yield. Since these attributes are crucial in the trading activities of marketers and buyers, data generated from the monitoring activity are guides in the taking of trading decisions. Furthermore, the unit determines the levels of pesticide residues in exportable cocoa prior to shipment overseas. The laboratory has the capacity to confirm the presence of active ingredients in pesticides and other products. Periodically, the laboratory carries out surveillance on pesticide distribution on the field and markets and educates farmers on the effects of abuse of chemical usage. Analyses are extended to other crops like cashew nuts, shea nut and butter, cocoa waste, etc. for other companies. The laboratory is equipped with modern sensitive analytical instruments such as Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (GCMS), High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer (AAS), Accelerated Solvent Extractor (ASE) and assorted instruments that provide us with a wide scope of analytical services. The laboratory will soon monitor the incidence of heavy metals (e.g. cadmium), polyaromatic hydrocarbons and other contaminants that are relevant to the cocoa trade, and provide scientific advice on how to reduce the prevalence of these contaminants.
The Entomology unit evaluates the efficacy of pesticides and the suitability of applicators and diluents for pesticide concentrates. It establishes standards, procedures and techniques in the application of the pesticides and monitors the usage, application and documentation of the pesticides as well as strict adherence to the procedures adopted on the field. . Based on the above, the effectiveness of pest control activities of the company is carried out and corrective actions are proposed. The unit also tests equipment and machinery such as foggers and sprayers which are relevant to QCC functions and provide technical advice on their procurement.
The Microbiology and Nutrition unit profile microorganisms such as fungus, yeast and bacteria that are relevant to quality of cocoa. They monitor the prevalence of types of moulds and generate data for emerging food safety concerns relating to contamination of cocoa by mycotoxins, specifically, ochratoxin A.
QCC, recognises that inspection is a critical step in product development and quality control and therefore has set up a Metrology and Tool Maintenance unit which is responsible for the calibration and verification of measurement equipment used as tools of trade in the QCC inspection services. The Unit also maintains, service and/or repair the electronic measuring devices and the tools of trade from time to time.
The Physical Unit Audits some aspects of QCC field staff operations that are critical to quality of cocoa by cross-checking the physical attributes of cocoa beans such as bean count, bean weight, uniformity of beans and moisture content assigned to parcels of cocoa by both upcountry and the ports' operatives. Thus it monitors the implementation of the laid down instructions and standards of operations/procedures by staff and alerts Management on any deviation from the norm with recommendations. The Unit also keeps reference subsamples of cocoa shipped to buyers in the event of and investigates problems relating to arbitrations for violations in the quality of cocoa shipped to overseas countries.
The post-harvest activities of COCOBOD start with quality control measures of QCC. QCC is therefore reponsible for inpsection grading and sealing of cocoa, coffee and sheanut for the local and the international markets. Quality Control Company Limited (QCC) is also responsible disinfestation of produce. Both functions are performed at the up-country and the take-over-centres(TOC). QCC's up-country activities are made up of two main Sections:
- Inspection Section
- Disinfestation services Section
Both functions are performed for prescribed fees.
The Company deals with Licensed Buying Companies (LBCs) and farmers in the cocoa, coffee and sheanut sectors as well as the general public.
The Company is responsible for the inspection and certification of storage facility of the LBCs. The LBCs are responsible for erecting or locating storage facility for the purchase and storage of cocoa and produce. However, it is the sole responsibility of QCC to inspect the such facilities and issue a "Certificate of Registration of premises" for such premises, which are then designated as "Scheduled Grading Centres" No grading and sealing activity is conducted in any storage facility that has not been certified by QCC.
Inspection, grading and sealing of produce are carried out at scheduled grading centres. Grading begins with "cut-testing analysis".Any produce which is graded and sealed is covered by a certificate called "Certification of Inspection Produce".Check-testing which involves selecting at random, some graded produce for examination by the supervisor to confirm the grade of sealed produce. Depending on the percentage of defective beans/nuts, the existing grade of the various produce are:
COCOA : Grade I, Grade II, Sub-standard and Cocoa Waste
COFFEE : Type I, Type II, Type III
SHEANUT : Exportable, Non exportable
The following measures are applied to control infestation of produce and warehouses. Spraying of empty sheds/warehouses with approved insecticide to eliminate residual infestation (before the opening of each cocoa crop season and the use of any newly acquired storage facility. Similarly, shipholds/containers are disinfested) Regular insecticidal fogging of sheds stocked with produce to reduce insect population.Fumigation of produce to control all stages of pest infestation. Use of poison bait to control rodents in storage premises.
QCC also offers the following on commercial basis:
Spraying : Applying water-based insecticide using motorized mist blower to target crawling and residual insects.
Fogging : Applying oil based insecticide using thermal swing fog and aimed at flying insects.
Fumigating : Applying gaseous insecticides on produce in an enclosed or gas-tight compartment targeting all stages of the life cycle of insects and other pests.
Poisoned Baiting :Setting baits in the form of poisoned food to kill rodents.
The Company has nine regional Offices as follows:
REGION - OFFICE LOCATION - CONTACT(S)
Greater Accra - Tema Port - 0303202443
Ashanti - Kumasi and Kaase-Inland Port - 0322022994,0322024028,0322045723
Eastern - Koforidua - 0342020421,0342021432
Brong Ahafo - Sunyani - 03520233317,0352027082,0352023676
Central - Agona Swedru - 0332020289,0332192328
Western - Takoradi Port - 0312022053,0312091058
Western (North) - Sefwi Wiawso - 0312094603,0312094602
Western (South) - Dunkwa-on-Offin - 0332228422,0332228918
Volta - Hohoe - 0362722010,0362720540
With the exception of Kaase-inland Port and Hohoe Regional Offices which is headed by Deputy Regional Managers all other Regional Offices are headed by Regional Quality Control Managers, assisted by Deputy Regional Quality Control Managers. The Regional Managers serve as a link between the districts and Head Office.
Currently, there are seventy-three (73) Cocoa Districts within which the Company operates. Each District is headed by a District Quality Control Officer (DQCO), who is supported by a number of Assistant Quality Quality Control Officers (AQCOs). The AQCOs conduct inspection, sampling, grading, sealing, certification of cocoa and other produce, as well as the disinfestation of produce and warehouses. In addition, they interact with farmers and educate them on the preparation of good quality produce.
The disinfestations activities which were performed on zonal basis has since 2006/2007 cocoa year been decentralized and being carried out at each district office. These activities are geared towards the control of storage pests to maintain the quality of produce.
Applying oil based insecticide using thermal swing fog and aimed at flying insects
Weighing 100 grams of the cocoa beans using a coco scale to determine the bean size (category)
Drawing samples of cocoa using a sampling horn.
Bulking the drawn cocoa beans for analysis.
Disinfesting a residencial premise
QCC staff analysising bulk samples for grading purposes.
QCC STAFF analysing pesticide residue on cocoa beans
Cutting cocoa to determine grade at port
Checking insects from sievings to identify live ones
QCC STAFF educating farmers on best practices
The Managing Director of QCC pointing out something to the Marketing staff
The CEO of COCOBOD at QCC's exhibition stand
Orientation for new National Service Personnel
Checking the acidity and alkalinity of cocoa beans
checking of moisture content of cocoa beans.
QCC Staff observing May Day activities.