Ghana’s Minister of Food and Agriculture, has been elected as the first Chairman of a steering committee, set up to guide the Côte d’Ivoire- Ghana Cocoa Initiative (ICCIG).
Dr Afriyie Akoto took on the role after both countries elected voted him on to the board at a crucial time for the West African countries who are battling a downbeat market and acrimony with the big chocolate makers of the payment of the Living Income Differential – a premium paid to farmers.
Solidarity between the two countries is essential if they wish to push their agenda and present a unified front to cocoa buyers, who continue to control much of the market.
Last August, the two countries founded the Initiative Cacao Côte d’Ivoire – Ghana (ICCIG), an organisation for present a structured approach to coordinate their approach, and find a path that can raise the living standards of the penurious farmers, at least to a living wage, that is agreeable to the chocolate companies. Together, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire control circa 70% of the world bulk cocoa production, but without a coordinated policy they feel the chocolate companies have been able to keep prices subdued.
The Steering Committee, now to be chaired by Ghana’s Food and Agriculture Minister will serve as an advisory group made up of top-level stakeholders and will advise the executive body on crucial matters.
Interestingly, a former Mars Inc Director, Alex Arnaud Assanvo of Côte d’Ivoire was named the first-ever Executive Secretary of the Initiative Cacao Côte d’Ivoire-Ghana (ICCIG). Based in Accra. Mr. Assanvo, who used to be the Director of Corporate Affairs for Europe and Africa at Mars, will supervise the activities of the two cocoa titans to promote and defend their combined position in the world market.
As expected, the fraught and sometimes unsuccessful implementation of the LID, a $400 a tonne premium paid to farmers, was discussed at the meeting. The question that now needs to be examined is how the two countries, working together, can improve the outcome for the two African nations, and finally get the chocolate companies to increase the overall amount paid for their cocoa.
COCOBOD and CCC, the implementing agencies for the Côte d’Ivoire-Ghana Initiative on Cocoa, are said to have reviewed activities of the body, referred to as CHOCPEC, the OPEC of the cocoa industry.