HIGH-LEVEL CONFERENCE ON SUSTAINABLE COCOA HELD IN ACCRA
Issues of traceability, transparency and accountability about child labour, monitoring and prevention of deforestation in the cocoa value chain and the coordination of initiatives supporting the cocoa sector, were at the fore of a high-level conference on sustainable cocoa in Ghana on 30 June 2021 in Accra. While the stakeholders like the EU stressed the need for sustainable productions, the farmers called for increased prices and living differentials to improve the livelihood of cocoa farmers.
The conference brought together various stakeholders to take stock of the four national dialogues previously held in the country. Participants drew conclusions on the way forward to ensure the economic, social and environmental sustainability of the sector. Their concerns will feed into the broader EU Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue on Sustainable Cocoa (Cocoa Talks), ahead of the concluding meeting in September 2021.
There was also a panel discussion on the main highlights of the dialogue. The panellists included Joseph Boahen Aidoo, Chief Executive of COCOBOD, H.E. Ron Strikker, Ambassador of the Netherlands to Ghana, Mr. Alex Arnaud Assanvo, Executive Secretary Cote d’Ivoire-Ghana Cocoa Initiative and Mr. Chris Vincent, Acting President, World Cocoa Foundation (WCF). The rest were Mrs. Sandra Kwabea Sarkwah, Chairperson of the Ghana Civil Society Cocoa Platform and, Mrs. Leticia Yankey, Cocoa Farmers Organisation and Founder of Cocoa Mmaa.
The EU launched the Cocoa Talks in September 2020 with the aim of making cocoa value chains in Ghana, Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire more sustainable. The conclusions will also inform the formulation of future support for sustainable cocoa production in Ghana, including the establishment of a multi-stakeholder platform to continue and deepen the dialogue.
The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor, represented Ghana’s President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, at the event, and delivered the opening address. Two other Ministers of state attended. They are the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr. Ignatius Baffour-Awuah and the Minster of Food and Agriculture, Mr Owusu Afriyie Akoto.
The High-level dialogue is a follow up to previous roundtable discussions held on different aspects of the cocoa issue. On 11 March 2021, the European Union Delegation to Ghana launched the national multi-stakeholder dialogue on sustainable cocoa. The launch followed a series of three thematic roundtable discussions to exchange ideas on specific topics.
The first roundtable discussion was organised on 15 April 2021 on the themes of traceability, transparency and accountability about child labour. The second roundtable discussion took place on 14 May 2021 and focused on monitoring and preventing deforestation in the cocoa value chain. The third discussion, organised on 10 June 2021, centred on the coordination of initiatives supporting the cocoa sector.
The Representatives of Cocoa Farmers organisation on the panel, Mrs Leticia Yankey, Founder of Cocoa Mmaa, urged the EU to pay the living differential because the farmers were not happy with the $ 400. She stressing that farmers needed to be resourced to improve their livelihoods, urging stakeholders to provide increased living incomes and good prices for cocoa as well as inputs, infrastructure and amenities to enable farmers produce sustainably.
Head of the Delegation of the EU to Ghana, Diana Acconcia in a closing remark, urged that the dialogue continue even after the event in order to provide feedback into appropriate legislation on sustainable cocoa.