ICCO advocates fair pricing for cocoa farmers
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.