The world’s two largest Cocoa producers, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, have noted some progress in their ongoing efforts to secure fair payment for their Cocoa farmers.

The West African countries recently announced that they will no longer sell their Cocoa to buyers at such low prices while their farmers struggle to earn a living wage. On average, Cocoa farmers earn less than $1 per day, which is far below the UN poverty line.

Cocoa buyers have therefore been given until 20 November 2022 to meet their financial obligations. Otherwise, their sustainability programmes would be suspended and they would be denied access to the Cocoa plantations, which is necessary to make crop forecasts.

If the programmes were suspended, chocolate manufacturers would no longer be able to market their products as sustainably produced, which could reduce their appeal to consumers.

The Cocoa Initiative Ivory Coast-Ghana (CIGCI) released a joint statement following a meeting between CIGCI Executive Secretary Alex Assanvo, Conseil du Cafe-Cacao (CCC) Director General Kone Brahima Yves and Cocoa Marketing Company Managing Director Vincent Akomeah.

The statement noted that some companies have been striving to find a sustainable solution to Cocoa production that puts farmers at the centre of the strategy. Producer countries agreed to continue discussions and announced that a working group of experts would be established to make recommendations for sustainable solutions by the end of the first quarter of 2023.

Commenting on the development, Ivorian Prime Minister Patrick Achi said he hoped that an “intelligent compromise” could be reached.

The Cocoa industry has faced many hurdles recently. Unpredictable weather conditions, the devaluation of the Ghanaian cedi and price increases for key agricultural inputs have all contributed to farmers’ difficulties. CIGCI said that if Cocoa industry players are serious about reducing deforestation and child labour and creating a sustainable value chain for all stakeholders, they must first and foremost be willing to pay their farmers a decent income.

The initiative “encourages all manufacturers to take action and show that they sincerely believe in sustainable cocoa production”, adding that this begins with compliance with the implementation of the Living Income Differential (LID), which requires buyers to pay a premium of $400 per tonne for Cocoa beans.

CIGCI, CCC and COCOBOD reiterated the need for all sectors of the Cocoa value chain to work together to improve the situation for Cocoa farmers and the industry as a whole. We look forward to the outcome of the working group in early 2023 and hope that it will result in concrete action.

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