The Manager in charge of Environment and Production at Kuapa cocoa, Frank Okyere, has called on the government to as a matter of urgency address all factors causing many cocoa farmers in the country to become poor.
He expressed the concern that issues such as the cost of production, labour, and farm inputs are some of the key factors fueling poverty among cocoa farmers.
Mr Okyere was speaking at a cocoa advocacy workshop in Accra last Monday on the theme: “structuring the coordination of our platforms to bring with a common voice the essential equitable sharing of value within the cocoa value chain”.
The programme sought to stimulate talks around sustainable Cocoa and was jointly organised by the National Producer Platforms of Ghana, Togo, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire and France.
It brought together over 50 stakeholders in the Cocoa sector.
“The rising cost of production is coming from all angles such as fertilisers, cutlasses and machinery used in spraying and pruning,” Mr Okyere bemoaned the situation.
He also noted with concern that “the prices of equipment are going up and the farm gate price keeps fluctuating and this does not reflect in the high rising cost of production, causing farmers to lose huge sums of money.”
The Deputy Director of Commerce Equitable France, Emillie Durochat called on cocoa-producing countries to form alliances to demand a reform in the mechanism for setting prices at the international level.
For her, the continued rise in the cost of farm inputs such as fertilisers, pesticides and farm machinery as well as the cost of labour were affecting cocoa production, causing them to lose huge sums of money.
“If we want to end poverty, deforestation, child labour among others, there is the need for all to come together to double the price of cocoa on the international markets, make enough profits to cater for their families” she stated.
She bemoaned how Cocoa producers received only six per cent out of the $100,000 billion money made yearly.
The Technical Manager for the Côte d’Ivoire – Ghana Cocoa Initiative (CIGCI) Madam Tawiah Agyarko-Kwarteng stated that, although the Living Income Differential Pricing was established not long ago, farmers are still not benefiting from their produce.
“At the Côte d’Ivoire Ghana Cocoa Initiative, we have been focused on representing our two countries to engage in a collaborative discussion with the various actors in the sector. Volatile pricing has been a problem for the cocoa sector which is not allowing the farmers to get the true benefits that they should be getting. We have actively engaged over the past few months with partners in the industry to ensure that we kick start conversations on the actions that we all need to take to help our farmers get better pricing,” she said.
President of Fair Trade Platform Cote D’Ivoire, Fortin Bley on his part, said there was no way the government would be able to sustain the cocoa sector if they did not address the issue of pricing adding that it was worrying to note that cocoa communities and farmers who produced such important crop continued to remain poor.
He said there was a need for the government to develop policies and provide the infrastructure that would change the fortunes of cocoa-growing communities.