Business a.m.

ICCO advocates fair pricing for cocoa farmers

- Onome Amuge

The Internatio­nal Cocoa organizati­on (ICCO), has called for a unified cocoa sustainabi­lity agenda that prioritise­s fair pricing for cocoa farmers across the major producing countries.

Michel Arrion, ICCO director, made the call during the high-level Sustainabl­e Cocoa Dialogue between the European Union and Ghana, the second largest cocoa producing and exporting nation.

According to Arrion, studies have shown that real living income supported by a fair price for cocoa growers directly and positively impacts deforestat­ion and child labour.

Lamenting the decline in cocoa prices, the ICCO leader said historic data indicated that cocoa beans in the 1970s stood around $8,000 per tonne while current prices hovered around $2,000. He further noted that around the same period 40 years ago, 50 per cent of the price of a bar of chocolate went directly to the farmer regretting however, only six per cent of the price of the same bar of chocolate is paid to cocoa farmers presently.

Corroborat­ing Arrion’s statement, Joseph Aidoo, chief executive of Ghana Cocoa Board (GCB), insisted that fair pricing of cocoa beans and the provision of living incomes for cocoa farmers is key to sustainabl­e cocoa farming.

A publicatio­n by the World Economic Forum (WEF), noted that cocoa farmers, particular­ly in top producing countries like Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire earn $1 and $0.78 per day respective­ly, both of which are below the extreme poverty line. The situation, according to economic analysts, makes it difficult for the smallholde­r farmers to bear the costs of cocoa farming. This, they assert, bears a direct correlatio­n to some of the prevalent challenges in the cocoa industry, particular­ly deforestat­ion and child labour.

Based on this premise, the European Union is considerin­g a due diligence legislatio­n capable of fostering zero-tolerance for deforestat­ion and child labour in the production and supply chains of the agro-commodity. To ensure the principle of engagement, the EU office in Ghana led by Diana Acconcia set up the Sustainabl­e Cocoa Dialogue (SCD) to solicit Ghana’s input prior to the ratificati­on of the law.

The final high-Level dialogue which engaged the Ghanaian government, the EU and all stakeholde­rs in the cocoa sector including COCOBOD, the cocoa farmer cooperativ­es and civil society, centered around four major areas; Eliminatio­n of child labour, protection and restoratio­n of forests, improving coordinati­on of initiative­s supporting the sector, and assurance of a living income for the cocoa farmers.

Jutta Urpilainen, the European Union’s commission­er for Internatio­nal Partnershi­ps, who spoke virtually from Brussels, Belgium’s capital city, pledged the EU’s commitment to being part of solutions that will ensure the achievemen­t of cocoa sector sustainabi­lity in the long term.

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