Since 1870 when Tetteh Quarshie introduced cocoa to the country, Ghana and its western neighbour, Cote d’Ivoire, have remained the top growers of the crop in the world, with cocoa serving as a leading foreign exchange earner for the two countries.
Consistently, the two nations have supplied more than 60 per cent of the world’s cocoa output, leaving the remainder to relatively small producing countries such as Nigeria, Ecuador, Mexico, Cameroun and Indonesia.
Thanks to the toil of farmers in the two leading cocoa growing nations who are mostly smallholder in nature, cocoa processing and chocolate factories in Europe, Asia and America have remained in brisk business, generating billions of dollars and creating thousands of jobs for their citizens and the sustenance of the global cocoa industry, which is variously valued at $100 billion.
Sadly, however, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire have little to show for their efforts at leading the sustenance of an industry that is equal to or more than the combined value of their national outputs, measured by gross domestic product (GDP).
The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), which regulates the cocoa business in the country, and its Ivorian counterpart, the Le Conseil du Cafe-Cacao, concur that their two countries earn less than five per cent of the $100 billion cocoa industry.
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While the Daily Graphic agrees that value addition is the surest way to increase our earnings from cocoa and the many other commodities that we export, we are also of the firm belief that the price paid for our cocoa is not commensurate enough with the efforts our farmers put in to produce the beans.
In short, our farmers deserve a better price for their cocoa; a price that is optimal and comforting enough to sustain the industry from gradual decay.
As the Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, said at the opening of the two-day cocoa stakeholder meeting in Accra yesterday, the sustainability of the cocoa industry included farmers being paid a price that could guarantee a ‘living income’.
With cocoa serving as a source of livelihood for millions of Ghanaians and being a top foreign exchange earner, its sustenance is key to the survival of the economy.
We congratulate COCOBOD and Le Conseil du Cafe-Cacao of Cote d’Ivoire on taking giant and bold steps towards securing a fairer price for cocoa farmers.
We note with satisfaction that the actions of the two bodies are inspired by a 2018 consensus reached between President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his Ivorian counterpart, President Alassane Ouatarra.
The Daily Graphic wishes to remind the two top cocoa producing countries that the task they have set themselves is a onerous one which will not succeed merely by withholding the sale of the beans to the end users.
They must also be aware that taking bold decisions, such as announcing a floor price for cocoa and seeking to change the status quo in the cocoa business, comes at a risk and with obstacles.
The COCOBOD and Le Conseil du Cafe-Cacao must keep their eyes on the goal, which is a fair price for cocoa, one that helps sustain the families of cocoa producers, enables them to continue to invest in the farming enterprise and also helps sustain the industry by attracting the next generation of farmers.