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Sun, Sep

GHANA AND CÔTE D’IVOIRE PUSH TO SET COCOA FLOOR PRICE IN A FIGHT FOR OUR FARMERS

Business & Economy

Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire have joined forces to push for a floor price below which they will not sell their cocoa on the international market.

Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire have joined forces to push for a floor price below which they will not sell their cocoa on the international market.

The unprecedented initiative by the two countries, which produce 65 per cent of the world’s cocoa, is to ensure a sustainable living income to farmers of both countries.

A two-day global stakeholder engagement opened in Accra yesterday with the aim of agreeing a price to be paid to the cocoa farmers.

Abidjan Declaration

The meeting follows previous engagements between President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his Ivorian counterpart, Alassane Ouattara, devoted to the cocoa economy.

These encounters culminated in the signing of what has become known as the Abidjan Declaration.
Ghana has been co-operating with Côte d’Ivoire to tackle common challenges in producing and marketing cocoa.

The aim is to create a platform conducive to effective engagement with traders, processors, manufacturers and retailers on matters of mutual interest, particularly farmers’ income.

Decent income

Addressing the meeting, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, expressed optimism that the two countries’ efforts will ensure that their farmers make a decent living from their work.

Although cocoa farmers require additional investment in the business, this is not possible because of unstable prices for the commodity, he said.

“A decent income for the producers will enable the farmers to sustain the environment for general growth.

“Forty per cent of our capacity is non-functional,” he revealed. “If we fail today, we will see the lack of cocoa beans tomorrow.

“This meeting is to lay a solid foundation for cocoa in our countries. Let us avoid entrenched positions and put the cocoa farmer in the forefront of the business,” Dr Afriyie Akoto said.

Market conditions produce poor farmers

In his welcome address, the chief executive of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Joseph Boahen Aidoo, urged all parties in the cocoa industry value chain to support the establishment of a floor price which will secure the interest of the cocoa farmer.

Cocoa production has been the most important economic activity in Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire for over a hundred years, he said, but there is little to show for it, with growing production costs and unfavourable market conditions.

These conditions have impoverished the producers, particularly farmers, and undermined their well-being.

“After several decades of consistent supply to meet industry needs, and overdependence on the natural resources to produce the crop, the threat to sustainability has become eminent.

“Amid high costs of production, the prevailing market conditions have rather impoverished the producers and undermined their general well-being,” Mr Boahen Aidoo said.

He remarked that in response to the falling price of cocoa on the international markets, several countries have reduced how much they pay farmers for their produce.

Ghana has however held steady and kept faith with the Ghanaian cocoa farmer. Maintaining the current price, however, is becoming more difficult to do.

Income disparity

Also addressing the meeting, Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia urged the stakeholders to join Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire to address the high income disparity between farmers and end users of cocoa products.

He expressed grave concern that most farmers are unable to cater adequately for their families, describing the situation as unconscionable.

“It is startling to learn from the president of the World Cocoa Foundation that only 6 per cent of the total value of chocolate goes to farmers. The percentage may be lower in the case of cosmetics and pharmaceutical end uses,” Dr Bawumia said.

“It is to this end that our governments [Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire] have agreed that we offer the farmer a fair share of the wealth that the industry generates. We must do this for good reason,” he said.

High risk, low well-being

Dr Bawumia said that looking at the average cocoa farmer in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, a life in agriculture seems unattractive to the next possible generation of farmers.

Cocoa farming’s low social and economic status places the industry at substantial risk, he said.

“Poverty levels among cocoa farmers who are at the root of both the supply and value chain continue to raise concerns. The irony here is that the primary risk takers are also the helpless price takers,” he said.

“Ladies and gentlemen, a satisfactory price for cocoa beans will go a long way to complement the government’s investments in rural infrastructure and improve the well-being of the communities,” he said.

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