The African Cocoa Platform (AfCoP) has held its 2022 General Assembly Conference in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, to among others chart a sustainable future for the knowledge-sharing body.
The two-day programme, from 29 – 30 November, saw participation by delegates from all five member countries namely Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Togo and Nigeria.
Deliberations centred on the current situation of the initiative in the respective countries with an opportunity for delegations to present emerging innovations within the cocoa value chain in each country.
The Ghana Focal Point for the AfCoP, Festus Kwame Kwadzokpo, taking his turn at the country presentations catalogued significant innovative interventions being implemented by various stakeholders in the Ghanaian cocoa sector.
He highlighted Ghana Cocoa Board‘s Cocoa Management System (CMS) as the most transformative innovation in the world’s second-largest cocoa producer nation with the potential to positively impact the global industry.
The CMS, an end-to-end software solution, successfully digitalises the entire cocoa value chain in the West African country with a capability for private sector actors to access the platform to perform various activities.
According to Mr Kwadzokpo, the Cocoa Management System offers an answer to the industry issue of cocoa traceability by providing holistic data about every single cocoa bean, from farm geolocation, farmer biodata, and transaction records, among others, in a very transparent way.
He identified cocoa productivity enhancement techniques like hand pollination, climate-smart and good agronomic practices, the Cocoa Farmers Pension Scheme, small-scale cocoa processing and value addition, and the farmers’ Living Income Differential (LID) among other innovations emanating from Ghana.
Connecting via video conferencing from Accra, the Deputy Director for Research at Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod), Michael Amoah, delivered an exposé on interoperability in traceability systems where he underscored that Ghana’s CMS possesses the capability to seamlessly harmonise pre-existing digital traceability solutions.
AfCoP Country Focal Points Bolawu Oladokun, Gilbert Fomukom, Afi Ruth Sitsope Adessou and Witkowski Claudia representing Nigeria, Cameroon, Togo, and Cote d’Ivoire respectively also took turns to highlight innovations in their jurisdiction cutting across production, processing and sustainability.
The Cameroonian cocoa value chain innovation centred around the development of organic cocoa and artisanal cocoa processing, whereas the Togolese championed the training of cocoa farmers in the preparation of organic pesticides for cocoa production.
In Cote d’Ivoire, climate-smart agriculture leads innovations geared at restoring forest cover in sustainable cocoa production, while in Nigeria industry stakeholders are advancing a post-harvest fermentation and drying technique that defies the rainy weather.
The African Cocoa Platform was created on the initiative of the German international cooperation agency, GIZ, and brings together private, government and civil society actors, including farmers’ organizations in the cocoa sector in the 5 member countries.
It was established in 2018 and coordinated by the GIZ Green Innovation Centre in Cote d’Ivoire with a 5-year funding support from Germany’s Ministry of Finance (BMZ).
The Platform has the key objective to facilitate knowledge-sharing and adaptation strategies among member institutions and actors.
With the BMZ funding window expiring in October 2023, one of the main objectives of the AfCoP General Assembly Conference in Abidjan was also to discuss and come up with innovative funding options and activities to sustain the platform for the future.
The Head of Project for the Green Innovation Centres, Magnus Schmidt, disclosed that discussions with the private sector to financially support the continuation of the platform has been positive and encouraging thus far.
He challenged the Platform members to come up with creative and innovative perspectives on how to ensure the sustainability of the AfCoP initiative.
The Coordinator of the Platform, Sussane Bercher-Hiss, said AfCoP has recorded important gains in the last few years of operations through its various initiatives and activities.
She stated that AfCoP has through its Agroforestry Competition this year, been able to identify good examples of sustainable cocoa farmers to serve as role models to other farmers in member countries.
A representative of Cote d’Ivoire’s Coffee and Cocoa Council (CCC), Mr Dadji, commended the GIZ for instituting the Platform, noting that it has proven highly beneficial to all stakeholders.
He added that the African Cocoa Platform has served as an ideal forum for cooperation among members and operators in the cocoa sector towards sharing and improving knowledge and operational best practices.