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Ghana has officially become a full member of the International Coffee Organisation (ICO) at a ceremony at the Head Quarters of the organisation in London.

This follows the presentation of the instrument of ratification of the ICO agreement by Ghana to the organisation by the government of Ghana.

With this status, Ghana has joined six more countries whose full membership into the ICO was endorsed this year thus bringing the total number of coffee export members of the organisation to 45. Countries with their membership consented this year included Gabon, India, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Panama, Papua New Guinea and Thailand. The parliament of Ghana approved of Ghana’s membership into the organisation and duly signed by President John Evans Atta Mills in July this year.

The Head of Chancery at the Ghana High Commission, Mrs. Sena Siaw-Boateng on behalf of President Mills presented the instrument to the Head of Operations of the ICO Mr. Josè Dauster Sette. The International Coffee Organization (ICO) is the main intergovernmental organization for coffee, bringing together producing and consuming countries to tackle the challenges facing the world coffee sector through international cooperation. It makes a practical contribution to the world coffee economy and to improving standards of living in developing countries. Ghana first assented to the International Coffee Agreement in September 1964 and has been a signatory to all the Agreements with Ghana Cocoa Board as the implementing agency for the government.

By this deposition of the instrument of ratification to the ICO, Ghana has indicated its consent to be bound by the ICA 2007 and shall have full voting rights as member of the International Coffee Organisation. Again Ghana’s status means the country will be allowed access to a unique forum where producing and consuming countries can discuss key issues and difficulties relating to international coffee trade, and develop timely policies and solutions.

Ghana from now on, will also be part of coffee exporting countries that participate and benefit from coffee development projects, which currently totaling US$85 million. It will also enjoy practical assistance by the ICO to the world coffee economy, which ensures sustainable development and poverty reduction in coffee-producing developing countries. Mrs. Siaw-Boateng indicated that the government of Ghana was happy to be part of the ICO and said the country was committed in ensuring that international coffee trade is done in an atmosphere that will guarantee good benefits for Ghana and other exporting member countries of the organisation.

She said coffee over the years has been one of the economic commodities for the country and the government has taken serious view of the need to develop the coffee industry to become a potential foreign exchange earner, hence her determination in ratifying the instrument to become a full member of the ICO. She observed that Ghana reached the highest coffee production level in 1997/1998 with an export of 10,000 metric tonnes and added that since then, there has been a gradual decline in exports due to the slump in world market prices and poor pricing policy. She added that plans are afoot to provide enabling environment for farmers to help revamp the industry. Mr. Josè Dauster Sette.said Ghana has been a very important export member of the ICO but regretted that over the years the country has not derived the maximum benefit due primarily to its membership status.

He noted that the full membership status that Ghana has obtained places a very high obligation on the country, among other things, regarding the provision of data to guide the organisation to formulate policies that will ensure the steady growth of the industry, The Head of Operations noted that the coffee is one of the world’s largest traded commodities produced in more than 60 countries providing a livelihood to some 25 million people. He said data needed by the organisation in terms of export and imports are left in the care of private hands in some member countries and since the organisation is an intergovernmental oriented it becomes difficult for it to obtain such data.

A situation Mr Sette described as not good for the development of the industry. He therefore urged Ghana to ensure that all obligations as a full member are met with precision and timely. “We shall facilitate transparency of international trade and promote the elimination of trade barriers and I believe Ghana will benefit from the ICO research activities, publication and dissemination of economic, technical, statistics and scientific information towards development of the Ghanaian coffee industry”. He added.

The Head of Operations of the ICO announced that Ghana will host the next general assembly of the organisation in November this year and called for cooperation and support for a successful meeting. Present at the deposition ceremony were the Mr. Tei Quartey –Technical Advisor to the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning and Mr. Edem Amegashie-Duvon Country Manager, Ghana Cocoa Marketing (UK) Ltd.
Source: Nana Sifa Twum, London

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