Concerns raised over farmer payments for cocoa sector

The Voice Network, a group of NGOs and Trade Unions tackling  sustainability in the global cocoa supply chain, has released a new position paper on providing a living income for farmers in key African markets.

As the organisation noted, currently almost no cocoa farmers in the main cocoa production countries in West Africa are earning sufficient wages.

The biennial Cocoa Barometer analysis of the industry published by the group is planned for late 2020, but is preceded by two position papers including an initial one revealing concerns over  farm gate prices paid to farmers  within the sector.

Speaking on its latest paper, the group said:  “Without a living income for cocoa farmers, cocoa will never be sustainable. If a farmer must choose between feeding his family, and not cutting down his old growth trees, it isn’t a choice. Other challenges facing the sector – such as deforestation and child labour – will be impossible to tackle if farmers still live in poverty.

“It should be abundantly clear that living income is the starting point of a conversation on farmer income, not a finish line. Those people reading this paper would not be satisfied with earning just a living income. Why should a cocoa farmer? Every farmer should be able to earn at least a living income, but preferably a lot more.”

The Voice Network added that several initiatives in the past year have started to communicate about desired cocoa price levels for farmers in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. The situation is not transparent, as each approach has a different methodology to calculate a living income and a different way to transfer additional money.

Significantly, the group added that these living income price calculations “so far have erred significantly on the low side”.

In the paper released by the Cocoa Barometer Consortium, the group explains why it believes current living income reference prices are too low, and why farm gate prices for farmers should be higher still.

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