As part of efforts to help increase farm profitability and ensure that the root cause of poverty are addressed for cocoa farmers in Africa, the national fair trade Platforms; of Ghana, Fair Trade Ghana Network (FTGN); the Ivorian Fair Trade Network (RICE) and the French Fair Trade Platform (Commerce Equitable France) met in Accra, Ghana to discuss and identify the challenges and opportunities in the Cocoa sector.
The workshop came at a time when farmers believe good pricing is the engine to sustaining the cocoa sector in Africa.
The objectives of this workshop being a gathering of top cocoa value chain actors and producers traditionally covered a wide spectrum of issues in the cocoa sector.
The workshop brought in more than 50 key stakeholders in the cocoa sector including the Cote D’lvoire Ghana Cocoa Initiative, the Ghana Civil-Society Cocoa Platform, SEND Ghana and EcoCare Ghana among others discuss ways to ensure sustainability in cocoa production.
The workshop addressed regional and international cocoa issues including the political negotiations on cocoa pricing, the new European Union regulations, Compliance, and forest protection among others.
The pricing of cocoa came up as topical among other issues with very interesting inputs on why the need for good pricing.
This year’s workshop is part of efforts to structure the coordination of the platforms and stimulate talks around sustainable cocoa.
Speaking at the workshop, the Technical Manager of the Cote D’lvoire Ghana Cocoa Initiative, Tawiah Agyarko-Kwarteng stated that, although the Living Income Differential (LID) dialogue started months ago, farmers are still not benefiting enough from their produce.
She stated further that the Côte d’Ivoire Ghana Cocoa Initiative has been focused on representing the two countries to engage in collaborative discussion for the betterment of the farmer.
“Volatile pricing has been a problem for the cocoa sector which is not allowing the farmers to get the true benefits that they should be getting for all their efforts.
“We have actively engaged over the past few months with partners in the industry to ensure that we kick start conversations on the actions that we all need to take to help our farmers get better prices.
“I believe that active collaboration is needed at all levels to help farmers gain what is required of them and ensure that we all are driving actions that deliver impact for the farmer” she said.
Manager of ABOCFA Cocoa Cooperative based in Suhum in the Eastern Region and a member of the Fair Trade Ghana Network , Stephen Ashia indicated that the workshop was an eye opening one and very timely for the farmers.
“I see this workshop, as a very good exercise for thorough discussions on ways to improve cocoa production and marketing for an increase in cocoa pricing and ensuring sustainability.
He stated further that most of the cocoa farmers in these countries live in extreme poverty with no alternative income generating activities.
“If you look at the issue of illegal mining activities (galamsey) and its level of devastation, if we don’t do something at this time to give some level of assurance and some kind of motivation to our farmers, in terms of the pricing, then farmers will continue to sell their farmlands to these illegal miners” he said.
President of the Cote D’Ivoire Fair Trade Platform, Fortin Bley said there was no way the governments would be able to sustain the cocoa sector if they did not address the issue of pricing.
“It is worrying to see that cocoa communities and farmers who produced such important crop continued to remain poor.
“It’s time for governments to develop policies and provide infrastructures that would change fortunes of cocoa farmers and their communities” he added.
The Deputy Director of Commerce Equitable France (CEF), Emillie Durochat urged Cocoa producing countries to form alliance to demand a reform in the mechanism for setting prices at the international level.
“If we want to end poverty, deforestation, child labour among others, there is the need for all to come together to double the price of cocoa on the international markets which will help farmers make enough profits to cater for their families” she stated.
The President of Fair Trade Ghana Network, Florence Blankson in her closing remarks thanked the over 50 delegates representing the various country platforms for their time and rich contributions to help structure the platforms in order to strengthen joint advocacy efforts.
“I strongly agree that farmer’s lives will improve with better price for the cocoa farmers in Africa.
“Let me express my gratitude to both the implementers (Agronomist and Veterinarians without borders-AVSF and Commerce Equitable France-CEF) and the donors (The French Facility for Global Environment (FFEM) & the French Development Agency AFD) for their continuous support to the National Platforms” she added.