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Don’t Use Cocoa Sector Sustainability Programme As Bargaining Chip — CRI   
 
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23-Oct-2019  
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Mr Bright Appiah
 
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A child-centred organisation, the Child Rights International (CRI), says plans by the government to use the cocoa sector sustainability programme, which supports farmers during the off season, as a bargaining chip for imposing a $-400 tonne premium on chocolate makers would be bad for poor cocoa farmers.

This is because the design of the sustainability programme for cocoa farmers helps to increase cocoa production, deals with child protection and development, as well as enhance socio-economic activities of farmers during the cocoa season and lean season.

Speaking to the Daily Graphic, the Executive Director of the Child Rights International (CRI), Mr Bright Appiah, said if the sustainability programme for cocoa farmers were cancelled, it would have damaging effects on the livelihoods of farmers and the entire cocoa sector.

It would be policy errors for the government to use the sustainability programme to force the farmers to accept unfavourable conditions that would ultimately affect the sector.

Background

Chocolate makers are facing an ultimatum -- either support a contentious plan to raise the pay of impoverished farmers or risk a halt to programmes that sustainability-conscious consumers increasingly demand.

West African neighbours Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana where more than 60 per cent of the world’s cocoa is grown, are becoming frustrated by the slow uptake of a strategy adopted in July to levy a $400-a-tonne premium to help improve growers’ pay.

They have threatened to suspend programmes that chocolate makers rely on to certify that their beans are not grown in protected forests or with the forced labour of children.

Chocolate makers cannot claim that they are sourcing cocoa sustainably and at the same time hold back their support for a plan that will considerably improve the livelihoods of small-scale producers, said Yves Kone, the Managing Director of Cote d’Ivoire’s industry regulator, Le Conseil du Cafe-Cacao, known as the CCC.

The sustainability programmes only serve a small number of farmers, while the new price mechanism will benefit all growers, according to the CCC.

“We cannot pretend that we are working with the farmers, investing in sustainability and refusing to pay the farmer,” Kone told reporters last Friday in the commercial hub of Abidjan.

“Sustainability is also paying farmers and working together.”

Decision

Mr Appiah said the government must reconsider any decision that would not benefit cocoa farmers, particularly the sustainability programmes that continue to provide numerous benefits to the sector.

Throwing more light on the benefits, he said the sustainability programme for cocoa sector, had helped build families during the closed seasons when “things become difficult for them”.

“Over 120,000 children who were involved in child labour have been withdrawn in cocoa area where CRI operates.

The CRI has collected data on over 270,000 farmers who are getting some form of support through the sustainability programme,” Mr Appiah said.

He explained that even if the government, through the Ghana COCOBOD intended to negotiate with farmers in determining premiums to be paid, the negotiations must not go beyond the issue of using the sustainability programmes as a threat to engage farmers.

Mr Appiah said almost 60 per cent of livelihood programme for farmers during the off season would be slashed once the government “sticks to the idea and itsimpacts would be so great”.

“It would be policy error for the government to use sustainability programmes as a means to engage with farmers,” he said.
 
 
Source: Daily Graphic
 
 

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