To address the issues of governance reforms in the Cocoa Sector, EcoCare Ghana together with its partners have launched the Cocoa Governance Advocacy Project in Accra.
The project seeks to realise a reformed Cocoa sector, where decisions are being made through an effective multi-stakeholder process.
Mr Obed Owusu-Addai, Co-Founder and Managing Campaigner, speaking at the launch of the project, said Cocoa was an important agro-commodity in West Africa, contributing significantly to the socio-economic well-being of many households in the sub-region.
He said Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana despite accounting for 65 per cent of global Cocoa supply in 2019/2020 Cocoa season both countries earned only 6 per cent of the global Cocoa/chocolate industry which was estimated about $100 billion.
The Co-Founder said compounding the problem was the sturdy decline in the global price of Cocoa, 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,” he said.
He said in Ghana, those problems were worsened by poor standards of governance, weak law enforcement and the non-inclusion of farmers voices in decision making.
He said most decisions about Cocoa were made by COCOBOD that was not known for its transparency, accountability or inclusion of stakeholders.
Mr Owusu-Addai said even though farmers were organized into cooperatives, they were mostly focused on Cocoa production.
“There is clearly a need for governance reform to strengthen the role and voices of civil society and farmers to engage in both the national and international deliberations on Cocoa,” he added.
He said several efforts were being made to address these challenges in the Cocoa sector.
The Co-Founder said the EU, like other cocoa import destinations, had started a process towards due diligence regulation for forest risk commodities to ultimately eliminate child labour and trafficking and end deforestation.
He said the current discussion in Europe and United Kingdom on due diligence regulation had the potential of opening the sector for effective governance reform through multi-stakeholder approaches.
He said the EU and UK due diligence regulation processes aimed at promoting the use of multi stakeholder approaches in Cocoa producing countries to address challenges in the sector.
Mr Owusu-Addai said to make those efforts effective and responsive at the national level, there was the need for nationally driven governance reform of the Cocoa sector.
He said there should be multi-stakeholder approaches that directly tackled the fundamental challenges in the sector to ensure that the voices of farmers reflected in decisions about Cocoa.
In Ghana, the changes made in the Forestry sector through a similar instrument called Voluntary Partnership Agreement is an evident to the potential of such approaches in reforming the Cocoa sector.
He said the Project, therefore, sought to leverage on existing opportunities, improve awareness creation, mobilize CSOs and strengthen the capacity of stakeholders to reform the sector through a multi-stakeholder approach.
He said it was also to improve Cocoa governance in Ghana through targeted advocacy and stakeholder mobilization, facilitate and consolidate civil society actions in Cocoa sector reform by leveraging ongoing due diligence reforms in EU and UK.
Madam Patience Olesu-Adjei, Campaigner for EcoCare Ghana, said as part of the project, COCOBOD, Ministry of Land and Natural Resource and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture would be sensitized about the need for governance reforms in the Cocoa sector.
She said the project had being designed to take between 24-36 months to realise expected outcomes and achieve objectives but it would have annual targets and plan of work with their own expected deliverables.
Other beneficiaries of the project include; Cocoa Licensed Buying Companies, Local Civil Society Organisations in the Cocoa sector, Cocoa Farmer-based Organisations and Cocoa Farmers.