By Gifty Arthur
Ghana and its neighbour, Cote d’Ivoire, has gone into an agreement, on how to work together to fight smuggling of cocoa, become more relevant in it pricing in the world market and also, increase the production of the commodity going forward.
The deal, reached last Friday in Accra during a two-day joint cooperation on cocoa by the two countries after they were tasked by the presidents of both countries which produces 60 percent of the world’s cocoa needs.
The meeting dubbed, “The Ghana-Cote d’Ivoire Technical Committee on Cocoa” led to the realization of what has become known as “The Accra Accord” containing strategies and measures to address most of the challenging problems in the sector mutual to the two countries.
Some of the challenges the Accord is aiming to tackle henceforth are, agricultural research extension, climate change, social and ethical issues concerning women and child labour.
Others are, illegal mining popularly known as galamsey, seed strategy and external market, electronic monitoring and payment system for cocoa farmers and efficiency in the sector.
At a ceremony to close the two day meeting, the Chief Executive of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Joseph Boahen Aidoo, said critical attention was also paid to local processing and local consumption of cocoa products.
According to him, since the two countries have the advantage as the biggest cocoa producing countries, “It should not be difficult for the countries to strike the solution of find remedy to the foreign price. I can assure you that the decisions that have been taken are certainly gearing towards that”.
He said, with the commitment shown by the two countries so far, it was clear they were prepared to get to the bottom of the perennial world price fall so that going forward it no longer become a bother.
“We are also indicating to the whole world that Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, are jointly going to ensure that we find a better price for our cocoa farmers and make sure that we have sustainable consumption of cocoa and respond to sustainable demand for cocoa and sustainable production of cocoa so that we can have a sustainable value chain”, he said.
The Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Akoto Afriyie, who commended the committee highly, said it was gratifying to learn that, in the Accord, there were strategies and plans to deal with the determination of cocoa prices in the world market so that those in that industry do not suffer unduly.
He said, this was particularly good news to him because he had personally campaigned in the last election on how cocoa farmers were being short changed by the then government and promised that if they came to power they were going to ensure the prices are increased because the farmers deserve it.
However, to his utmost surprise, since the NPP assumed office, the price keeps falling, putting him in a tight corner as farmers will be looking forward to this promise.
“The assurance by the CEO of Ghana COCOBOD that the work that you have done in the last few days should enable us to support the world price of cocoa is something which is very reassuring to me. Let me put it in context.
The world cocoa industry is worth about $120 billion what comes to us as priming producers is only about $9billion and what we are talking about here is that within the $9billion we are losing some billions which is very serious if you put it in this context.
I think for some of us who are in politics, the decline in cocoa prices in the past nine months or so, pose a very big problem for us.
I was going round campaigning last year for my party in the cocoa growing areas that the price paid to cocoa farmers was not enough that, if my government came to power, we were going to increase the price and we meant it, because we have done our calculation, because there were still some fat that can be converted into real meant for our poor farmers at $300,000 per metric tonne.
The price at which cocoa price had stayed in previous three years; nothing prepared me for the fact that in the very short period of months, this price could be reduced to one third sharply to below two thousand dollars and that poses problem for me when I said I had a problem, you have to understand.
So the assurance given by the Chief Executive of COCOBOD and his counterpart from Cote d’Ivoire that they are going to move heaven and hell to try and support the price at a level, is something relieving to me I must confess.
Because the price we give to our farmers at today’s exchange rate is now very close to the world price in London and for some of us politically, you cannot touch the price that the farmer is getting. If you promised him that you are going to increase the prices and it turns out that for technical reasons you cannot, the least you can do is to leave the price where it is”.
Board chairman, COCOBOD, Hackman Owusu Agyeman, said what was contained in the “Accra Accord” was substantial and prayed that it would be faithfully executed. He stressed accords are very easy to put on paper, but what was critical was the spirit with which it was made to follow through.
Mr. Agyeman said, the initiative was under the instruction of the two leaders who are committed to lift their people from the quagmire of poverty depravation and take them up and I believe that we can not disappoint them.
“ They have given to us the mandate to work together to make sure that those that are in the cocoa production business are not short changed and the least we can do is to rise to the occasion”.