Fairtrade Africa today rounded up its first Joint Review and Planning meeting for the year with Cocoa producers from the 10th to the 14th February 2020 in Kumasi, Ghana. The meeting, which is the third of its kind so far, since its inception, was attended by the representatives from Fairtrade Africa West Africa Region, Cocobod, chocolate manufacturers, Fairtrade Certified Cooperatives and the Department of Cooperatives under the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations.
The meeting provided an opportunity for all partners to review the West Africa Cocoa Programme which has been implemented with Fairtrade certified Cooperatives for the past 4 years in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. The meeting is also to collectively seek improvement and ways of addressing some of the challenges that farmers face with respect to access to market, pricing and addressing the social conditions of farmers.
Speaking at the first day of the meeting, Team Leader for Cocoa for Fairtrade West Africa Region, in Ghana, Mr. Abubakar Afful mentioned that Fairtrade remains committed to support organisations to be resilient, self-sustaining and viable organisations with the support of its partners and the most importantly the gallant producers. He stressed that Fairtrade remains committed to ensure that farmers receive the needed support to take advantage of the Living Income Differential introduced by the Ghanaian and Ivorian governments last year, in addition to the Fairtrade Minimum price and Premium.
On the part of Tony’s Chocolonely, the Partnership Manager, Henk Veldman indicated that his company is happy working with Fairtrade certified cooperatives as they believe this kind of partnership will bring a lot of impact to the farmers. As a result of this, they have increased the number of cooperatives they are working with in Ghana, from one (1) to three (3). He added that Tony’s Chocolonely as a company believes in five (5) sourcing principles including paying a higher price, ensuring stronger producer organisations and farmers, long term partnership, increasing productivity and traceability. He called on the farmers to work together to advocate for their interest in the cocoa sector to help lift the standard of living of farmers.
On their part, the small producer organisations are looking forward to a progressive year while strengthening their organisations to be run as a business to reduce poverty at the community level. They stressed the need for stakeholders such as Cocobod to reach all Cooperatives and farmers with their programmes aimed at fostering a conducive cocoa supply chain.
Representing the Fair Trade Ghana Network, President of the network Mr. Johannes Koumedjro said: “The producers are appreciative of Fairtrade’s support in building the capacity of their members in good agricultural practices, financial management, internal management system as well as on social compliance issues such as gender inclusion and social protection”. He entreated the producers to consider value addition such as processing and diversification to increase the income of the farmers.
Speaking on behalf of the Ghana Cocobod, “Mr. Prince Kyei Regional Extension Officer- Eastern Region commended the Cooperatives for working together with relevant stakeholders to improve their organisational efficiency. He mentioned that Cocobod’s priority also focuses on encouraging producers to work through Cooperatives. He indicated that Cocobod is providing fertilizers, slashers and pruners to all farmers to increase their yield. This, he said, is aimed at ensuring that Ghana hits the 1 million metric tonnes production target in the coming years. He also called for more collaboration between Fairtrade, cooperatives and Cocobod to bring more impact to the cooperatives.
Speaking for the Department of Cooperative, Mr. Richard Mensah commended the cooperatives for coming together to bring the best services to their members. He entreated the farmers to continue to comply with the Cooperative principles and the Fairtrade Standards that will continue to make the societies and unions stronger.
Fairtrade continues to work for a world in which all producers can earn a decent income to fulfil their potential. This means advocating at all levels with all relevant stakeholders to bring about equity in trade and improvement in lives of cocoa farmers.