The Managing Convener of Ecocare Ghana, Mr. Obed Owusu-Addai has reiterated his organization’s convictions that, all the problems affecting the cocoa sector have to do with poor governance standards.
Mr. Owusu-Addai, who was speaking at the launch of the Cocoa Governance and Advocacy Project in Accra, said, “when you address the governance issues in the cocoa sector, you solve most, if not all the problems bedeviling the sector”.
He recounted that, some of the major organizations in the sector hitherto weren’t amenable to governance reforms, thus creating serious problems along the supply chain, which eventually affect the farmers on the ground, adding that, “They have over the years shown no appetite for reforms”.
However, he expressed optimism over the turn of events following some consultations that have led to institutions like the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) giving room for discussions on reforms aimed at changing the living standards of the cocoa farmer.
He mentioned land tenure as one of the areas requiring reforms to boost cocoa production and improve on the livelihood of farmers. “Land tenure is one of the biggest challenges governance reforms should encompass”.
He said, many youth are discouraged from going into cocoa farming because they are not sure of the fate of the farms as land ownership issues aren’t clear.
He noted that, some of the nagging problems affecting the sector such as child labor, land tenure, farmer livelihood, pricing, are governance-related, adding that, “When you solve the governance issues, the chips would fall in place”
He revealed that, the Cocoa Governance and Advocacy Project was born out of a realization that, effective governance reforms, coupled with multi-stakeholder involvement and advocacy could resolve the problems facing farmers and others who depend on cocoa for their livelihood.
He lamented that, though Ghana and Ivory Coast accounted for about 65% of the global cocoa production in 2019/2020, the two countries earned only 6% of the global cocoa/chocolate industry which is estimated at about $100 billion.
He disclosed that the sturdy decline in the global price of cocoa has compounded the problem, leaving most cocoa farmers in poverty. “As a result, child labour and deforestation are on the rise and there are not enough young people interested in cocoa farming to replace the aging farmers’ population.”
Mr. Owusu-Addai attributed these problems to poor standards of governance, weak law enforcement and the non-inclusion of farmers’ voices in decision making.
He, therefore, called for governance reforms to strengthen the role and voices of civil society and farmers to engage in both national and international deliberations on cocoa.
He said the Cocoa Governance and Advocacy Project, supported by UKaid, Fern and Gower St., seeks to improve cocoa governance in Ghana through targeted advocacy and stakeholder mobilization.
It would seek, within its 24-36 months duration, to facilitate and consolidate civil society actions in cocoa sector reform in Ghana by leveraging ongoing due diligence reforms in EU and UK.