Once upon a time, we were told of a great man who brought a bean to Gold Coast, he planted it, cultivated it and harvested the crop. Little did he know that 127 years down (1890-2017) the line, it will become the chief agricultural cash crop and major export for present day Ghana.
Tetteh Quarshie was a Ghanaian farmer born in 1842 from Teshie, a strong Ga community. He became an apprentice in a Bassel mission workshop at Akropong. He was also the first blacksmith to be established at Akuapim-Mampong. It was through his experience in blacksmith that led him to travel to the Fernando Po Island (Spanish colony now Bioko in Equatorial Guinea).
Six years later, Tetteh Quarshie returned to Ghana with him several cocoa beans (also known as Amelonado) and planted them on his farm at Mampong- Akuapim. The people of Mampong consumed this crop, which matures in 3-5 years. Little did Tetteh Quarshie know that by sowing this golden bean, his name will forever be ingrained in Ghanaian history for bringing a crop that is still the most significant part of the country’s agricultural export today.
Tetteh Quarshie quickly realized the commercial value of the crop and rapidly showed the other farmers how to grow it. they followed suit and Mampong became the first cocoa hub of the country. It was no longer a fruit for personal consumption, but a commercial product to make big business. In 1891, the export of cocoa from Ghana began to flood countries such as Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
Some key benefits of Tetteh Quarshie’s golden bean to Ghana are;
Ghana once provided almost half of world output on cocoa.
Ghana was the world’s largest exporter of cocoa between 1910 and 1980 but now the second largest producer and exporter.
Ghana’s cocoa is still of the highest quality and being made into the finest chocolate one can enjoy.
The country earns hundreds of millions of dollars annually from the export of the beans and processed materials.
The cocoa sector directly and indirectly employs about 2 million people and constitutes a large chunk of Ghana’s GDP.
Tetteh Quarshie died on 25th December 1892, not living to see the official export of two cocoa bags later that year.
Today in Ghana, although there are various memorials set up in honour of his contributions to the country, more than half the population do not know who this man was; let alone what he looks like. From Tetteh Quarshie House in Achimota, Tetteh Quarshie Memorial Hospital, Tetteh Quarshie Art market and Tetteh Quarshie Interchange. He has left an indelible mark on the future growth of his country.