Top officials of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire say they have received calls from a number of cocoa-producing countries to join their recently launched joint initiative on cocoa.
The formal commencement of operations of the headquarters and permanent secretariat of the Cote d’Ivoire–Ghana Cocoa Initiative has taken off in Accra with the successful signing of the Headquarters Agreement on Thursday 5 August 2021.
The location of the secretariat in Accra is in accordance with the Charter establishing the Initiative.
The Headquarters Agreement also seals the Ghanaian government’s commitment to guarantee absolute diplomatic privileges, support and protection to the operations of the Secretariat of the Cote D’Ivoire–Ghana Cocoa Initiative in Ghana.
Ghana’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, said the Charter also gives recognition and immunities to the Secretariat and further provides independence to its operations in the country.
“We pledge our unflinching support and cooperation to help the Initiative achieve its primary objective. It is our ultimate aim that in the end, the cocoa farmers’ income level will enable them and their families enjoy decent living standards,” she maintained.
The Cote D’Ivoire–Ghana Cocoa Initiative was born out of a mutual desire by the leadership of both countries to improve the income and sordid living conditions of the hardworking cocoa farmers.
Ghana Cocoa Board and Le Conseil du Cafe Cacao, the cocoa regulatory agencies of the two countries, acting on the Abidjan Declaration of March 2018 signed by Presidents Nana Akufo-Addo and Alassane Ouattara worked together for the establishment of the organisation.
Ghana’s Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, also doubles as the Chairman of the Steering of the Cote d’Ivoire-Ghana Cocoa Initiative having been elected to a 15-month mandate.
He said a draft budget detailing the staff strength, related emoluments, logistics and operational costs would soon be approved to enable the secretariat swing into action.
Dr Akoto welcomed the premiere Executive Secretary of the Initiative, Alex Pierre-Arnaud Assanvo, to Ghana as he officially takes office.
The Agric Minister had no doubt that the Initiative would achieve its ultimate vision of securing decent incomes for cocoa farmers in the two neighbouring countries.
“This great trajectory to a promising future for our cocoa farmers cannot fail,” he insisted, adding “together, let us continue to push forward our resolve for remunerative income for our cocoa farmers against all odds.”
The single monumental achievement of the Cote d’Ivoire – Ghana cooperation on cocoa is the $400 per tonne Living Income Differential (LID), a price mechanism that seeks to improve the earnings of cocoa farmers.
Despite its initial acceptance, the LID is facing fierce pushback by cocoa buyers and chocolate manufacturers prompting a warning by the cocoa superpowers to name and shame evaders.
Its implementation which started in October 2020 led to an unprecedented 28% hike in Ghana’s producer price to GHS660 per 64kg bag of cocoa beans.
Chief Executive of Ghana Cocoa Board, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, said the decision to site the Cote d’Ivoire-Ghana Cocoa Initiative headquarters in Accra has gained more weight and leverage with the physical presence of the Secretariat of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) already in the Ghanaian capital.
He was hopeful the Secretariat will provide the much needed coordinated effort to ensure compliance with the LID.
Mr Aidoo hinted that some countries impressed with the resolve of the two countries have requested to join their ranks.
“A number of countries are knocking at the doors of the initiative to join. The day is, therefore, coming when the Secretariat in Accra will be serving not only Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire but all cocoa producing countries in the West African subregion and beyond,” Mr Aidoo observed.
“Others want to join us so that their cocoa farmers can also benefit from decent prices from the international market”, emphasised the Director-General of Le Conseil du Cafe Cacao, Brahima Kone Yves.
He vowed Cote d’Ivoire’s unwavering commitment to the Initiative, urging the parties to remain strong to protect cocoa farmers.
The Ivorian Minister for Food, Agriculture and Rural Development, Kobenan Kouassi Adjoumani, called the Initiative an important collaborative tool to tackle structural challenges in the international cocoa trade.
The two West African countries together command about 70% of world cocoa bean production.
The Cote d’Ivoire-Ghana Cocoa Initiative capitalises on their unique position to correct a world market pricing system deemed fundamentally unfavourable to cocoa growers, who currently earn only 6% of the $130 billion cocoa and chocolate industry.