EU delegation meets online with Ghana officials over cocoa sustainability
The EU has continued web-based discussions with Ghana’s Cocobod cocoa organisation and the country’s Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, on delivering sustainability within the sector, writes Neill Barston.
Following on from an earlier online session in March, a European Union delegation discussed key topics facing the industry, with environmental concerns being a central topic for debate.
A joint statement on the national framework for sustainable cocoa online event organised in Accra, Ghana, noted that the initial web-based sessions attracted more than 150 participants each, confirming the high interest around sustainability matters in Ghana – including the fact cocoa production entails the risk of deforestation.
The core themes for the latest round-table were potential improvements to traceability and transparency in the sector to support a cocoa supply chain that can prove to be deforestation free.
A large spectrum of stakeholders involved in the cocoa sector – government officials, civil society organisations, farmers’ organisations, private sector representatives and development partners, contributed to the event, sharing experiences and lessons learnt on mechanisms to monitor and prevent deforestation.
The virtual gathering was the second of a series of three thematic roundtables organised during the second quarter of 2021. Recommendations from these discussions feed a broader dialogue launched last year by the European Commission together with Ghana and Ivory Coast.
Significantly, last week, Ghana’s Cocobod met with Ivory Coast counterparts at Le Conseil Cafe Cacao, to further strengthen economic partnerships between the two nations – which account for nearly two thirds of global cocoa production. The meeting allowed the opportunity to discuss progress on the Living Income Differential scheme of farmer premium payments ($400 a tonne), which were introduced last October.
The situation has become more complex in recent months, as the Ivory Coast government has reportedly reduced ‘farmgate’ prices directly paid to farmers, meaning the newly introduced LID scheme’s gains for farming communities are effectively wiped out, which has led to major concerns from industry observers.
Speaking regarding the EU discussions, the EU Ambassador to Ghana, H.E. Diana Acconcia said: “The European Union is committed to tackling the problem of global deforestation and forest degradation. Together, as partners, we can tackle climate change and biodiversity loss while ensuring socio-economic transformation.
“Transparent traceability system is essential to guarantee – to all actors of the value chain – that Ghanaian cocoa is environmentally sustainable”.
As stated by the Chief Executive of the Cocobod, Hon. J. B. Aidoo: “In partnership with the Forestry Commission, we are currently working on a digital Cocoa Management System. This system will map all cocoa farms, collect data on the profile of cocoa farmers, and ensure that Ghanaian cocoa can be traced from the farm to the fork”.
Mr. John Allotey, Chief Executive, Forestry Commission added: “Transparent and inclusive traceability systems will facilitate the monitoring of cocoa production and its potential impact on deforestation and forest degradation. Such systems will establish a climate of trust among all stakeholders in the value chain, as we have learnt in the set-up of the FLEGT-VPAs (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade – Voluntary Partnership Agreement and REDD+ Governance Structures”.