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Voice of Cocoa

West African Leaders Must Strengthen Trade and Price Mechanism

West African leaders have been urged by Ghanaian cocoa farmers to take advantage of the soaring international market prices of cocoa.

The farmers say the trading and pricing mechanism has left many cocoa farmers in West Africa poor and hopeless.

Leticia Yankey, founder and chairperson of the solely women-led cocoa farmers’ cooperative Cocoa Mmaa, made the rallying call in Brussels.

According to her, the current international market price of cocoa presents an opportunity for cocoa farmers in West Africa to benefit from the full value of cocoa production and ensure better living conditions for farmers to produce cocoa sustainably.

For her, strong trading and pricing mechanisms will enable regulators in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire to come out with impartial farm gate prices that would help farmers produce more cocoa as well as help reduce poverty in cocoa farming communities across West Africa.

She explained that impartial farm gate prices will encourage Ghanaian and Ivorian cocoa farmers to practice a culture of honesty and openness.

Yankey was speaking at the 5th World Cocoa Conference in Brussels, Belgium, organised by the International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO) under the theme “Paying more for a Sustainable Cocoa.”

The Conference is the leading event for the global cocoa and chocolate sector, bringing together all the stakeholders in the cocoa value chain, including governments, financial institutions, logistics companies, and international aid and development agencies from across the world, to exchange views and identify solutions for the sustainability of the sector.

Ghana has in the last two crop seasons, failed to meet its average annual cocoa production target of 850,000 metric tonnes, thereby adversely impacting local grinding and export.

Ms. Yankey admits that the current climate conditions in cocoa growing communities is also one of the major factors impacting negatively on cocoa production and resulting in low yields in cocoa growing regions.

“We are calling on our governments to intervene immediately because for every step, you need a specific weather condition and specific farm inputs to succeed. The climate change has disrupted the process of managing cocoa, you need rain at a point in time, you need the sun and humidity at a point in time as well to dry,” she said.

For his part, Chairman of the Cocoa Abrabopa Cocoa Farmers Cooperative, Ishmael Pomasi indicates that most Ghanaian farmers are missing out on their production target due to unpredictable rainfall patterns in the West Africa region.

He is worried that climate change is negatively impacting cocoa production at a time when land area for farming activities is reducing drastically through illegal mining.

“The delays in rain has brought us a great loss. It has not been easy for myself and other farmers, as we lost almost all our investments in the farming business.

“I believe that delays in rains and excessive rainfall patterns in West Africa are not only bringing losses to us farmers but also threatening food security in the region.

“The sustainability agenda must focus more on the provision of irrigation systems across cocoa-growing communities in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire; substantive investment is needed in irrigation systems to help sustain our cocoa industry,” Pomasi said.

Also sharing his views, the Managing Director of VOICE Network, Antonie Fountain, believes that making the consumer the solution to challenges facing the cocoa farmer in West Africa is not an option.

“Large cocoa and chocolate companies must be made to pay more for their cocoa, which will allow West African cocoa farmers to earn a living income.

“We have to solve the problem of living income in the cocoa sector now, if we fail to do so now and here, we will not be able to solve other sustainability issues like child labour, deforestation, or gender inequality,” he said.

In Fountain’s opinion, it’s time to stop pointing fingers to the bad guys and start looking at ourselves. Governments have to make laws and create level playing fields when taking decisions on farm gate price.

The National Coordinator of the Ghana Civil-Society Cocoa Platform (GCCP), Nana Kwasi Barning Ackah, indicated that the Ghana Platform is working on creating an alliance with the aim of advocating for farmers rendered poor and marginalised.

According to him, the African Platform will educate smallholder cocoa farmers in Africa on the need to see farming as a business and the need to introduce modern agricultural practices in their communities.

“Structural challenges such as aged trees, diseases, and climatic challenges, among others, are problems the African Platform will collectively help farmers deal with through training and partnerships,” he added.

Nana Yaw Reuben Jr.
Source Cocoa Post
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