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Business & Economy

Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire produce roughly 65 per cent of the world’s annual cocoa supply between them, but over the years the two countries have not been in any position to determine the price of the crop.

Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire produce roughly 65 per cent of the world’s annual cocoa supply between them, but over the years the two countries have not been in any position to determine the price of the crop.

In effect, the two countries have remained mere takers rather than determinants of price.

The effect of this has been continued impoverishment of both countries’ farmers ‒ paradoxically the most important stakeholders in the cocoa industry value chain.

Skewed market makes for unfairness

In February 2017, cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire embarked on a strike to protest against what they described as the failure of the Ivorian regulator, the Conseil du Café-Cacao (the Coffee and Cocoa Council, or CCC), to secure their interests.

The main complaint of the poor cocoa farmers was that they had not been paid for their crop since December the previous year.

We at the Daily Statesman, like many other individuals and groups, believe that this frustration with the status quo reflects a grave unfairness to our cocoa farmers.

They get nothing like the reward they require for their toil as the nucleus of the cocoa industry, whose toil provides the resources to develop the economies of their countries, as well as the economies of foreign countries which rely on cocoa to sustain their confectionery industries and create wealth and employment for their own people.

Positive move

That is why we at the Daily Statesman commend laudable efforts being made by the governments of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire to position themselves to influence the direction of how cocoa is traded on the world market.

It is similar to what members of the Organisation of Petroleum-Exporting Countries (OPEC) have long done in the oil and gas industry.

To promote this positive effort, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire resolved to address this and other challenges of the cocoa sector within the framework of the implementation of a strategic partnership agreement in March last year.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his Ivorian counterpart, Alassane Ouattara, held a consultative meeting devoted to the cocoa economy and subsequently signed what has become known as the “Abidjan Declaration”.

COCOBOD leaps to farmers' defence

In one outcome of the Abidjan Declaration, officials in charge of the cocoa industry in the two countries are expected to meet the key stakeholders in the cocoa value chain from across the world in Accra tomorrow, Tuesday June 10.

The two countries are expected to make a strong case for reorienting the trade in cocoa to ensure that their farmers earn more for their produce.

Chinese whispers gleaned from talking to highly placed sources in the Ghanaian cocoa industry over the past few days speak of a major announcement on pricing.

In April this year, the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) announced that it would not reduce the producer price it pays Ghanaian cocoa farmers despite a sharp fall in the world price. It is doing this, it said, purely in the interests of the Ghanaian farmer.

The two countries have harmonised their producer prices though Ghanaian farmers continue to earn a better income for their cocoa than their Ivorian counterparts.

We believe the two countries are charting a good course which should elicit the support of other stakeholders they are expected to meet tomorrow.

Fight the power

Be that as it may, we can anticipate that efforts will be made by other interest groups to “fight” the noble position taken by the two countries to defend their farmers.

We wish to urge officials of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire to remain resolute in their efforts, and to maintain one voice on matters of cocoa on the international market.

Other stakeholders may have their own interests and seek to protect them. The Daily Statesman believes that the interest of the Ghanaian and Ivorian cocoa farmer must be paramount, because he or she is the most important person in the whole value chain.

Currently, the farmer remains the most vulnerable element in the industry and the person most likely to be “cheated”. The time has come for this unfairness to end.

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