Frustration grows as governments try to find a way for fairer cocoa payments

The latest installment in the major saga of cocoa pricing in Africa has just taken another significant twist.

Having taken some time to arrive at a joint position, governments in Ghana and Ivory Coast had seemingly come up with a workable plan for raising farmers’ payments in the industry.

A figure of $2,600 per tonne was some way below peak prices that have seen cocoa trade at well over $3,000 historically, which has continued to have a major impact on farming communities.

Industry has of course tried to respond in terms of sustainability initiatives put in place by major businesses including Mondelez, Mars, Barry Callebaut, Cemoi and Ferrero.

But solving the wider issue of poverty that has continued to affect the African continent will require long-term structural investment on a scale that does not appear to be readily forthcoming.

However, without making steps in the right direction, then little will change to help lift communities out of poor conditions. What has been encouraging in the past couple of years is that sustainability schemes appear to have broadened out their horizons in terms of companies supporting communities develop diversified crop patterns, as well as wider educational initiatives.

But essentially, the core issue of paying more for cocoa remains – unless this happens, then the next generation of potential farmers will simply not engage with the sector.

As a number of leading businesses in the sector have relayed to Confectionery Production – the industry is indeed facing a crisis, which requires urgent, sustained action if it is to remain viable.

The fact that Mars appeared to reportedly support the move from the Ghana and Ivory Coast governments must be seen as encouraging, yet it requires the whole sector to act in tandem for meaningful action to happen on the ground.

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