Dr. Kwaku Afriyie, Member of Parliament for Sefwi Wiawso, has called for strengthening measures that protect cocoa farmers from undue price and market manipulation, so they get enough rewards for their toils.
Without mentioning names, he said there are some nine companies which have formed a cartel and are manipulating the marketing sector of the cocoa industry; and “we the producers must take steps to ensure that our farmers benefit from their toil”.
Dr. Afriyie said this in an interview with journalists after contributing to a statement on the floor of Parliament to mark this year’s National Chocolate Day.
The MP was clear that foreign companies have no business hiding behind mainstream cocoa price negotiations to deprive hardworking farmers and producing countries of what is rightly due them.
The MP, a former Western Region Minister, praised Ghanaian cocoa farmers for keeping the industry afloat and maintaining the nation’s position as best producer of quality cocoa worldwide.
He commended President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for the collaboration under a strategic partnership entered into by Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire to guarantee a Living Income Differential (LID) of UD$400 per tonne to be paid farmers.
The payment goes to all categories of cocoa beans from Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire starting from the 2020/2021 crop season.
President Akufo-Addo had noted that with Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire responsible for 65 percent of the world’s output of cocoa, and with the global chocolate industry worth some 100 billion dollars, it is not right that the farmers get only six billion dollars for their effort.
Dr. Afriyie, himself a cocoa farmer, said about 50 million people are engaged in cocoa production worldwide – and wondered why a few people would form a cartel and manipulate the market by creating artificial gluts and shortages to disadvantage the majority of producers.
Dr. Afriyie described chocolate as symbolising Ghana, which has earned a cultural identity for the nation.
Aside from chocolate, other cocoa products have health benefits such as reducing sugar levels and improving dental and cardiovascular health.
He described the Sefwi Wiawso Constituency as the area with the largest per square mile production of cocoa worldwide.
Dr. Afriyie called for other beverages in Ghana to be substituted with cocoa products as a way of ensuring import substitution, and appealed for all MPs and stakeholders to sustain efforts at getting better prices for cocoa and its products.
Mrs. Barbara Oteng-Gyesi, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, said apart from being the leading foreign exchange earner, the many uses of cocoa – including being used for cosmetics and liqueur -make it an important national product that requires utmost attention for the nation to derive its expected benefits.
She commended government for the efforts of mass-spraying, cocoa pollination and effective quality control in sustaining the industry, and called for cocoa drinks to be used in all national school feeding programmes.
Mrs. Oteng-Gyasi used the occasion to stress the need “drink, eat, and wear Ghana’’ as a way of contributing to achieving the Ghana beyond Aid agenda.
The 2020 edition of the National Chocolate Day was observed on the theme ‘My Chocolate Experience, My Holistic Well-being’.
The Ghana Tourism Authority instituted the day during 2005, in partnership with the Ghana Cocoa Board and Cocoa Processing Company to coincide with Valentine’s Day.
It is to raise awareness on the need to patronise cocoa products as a means of helping generate more revenue for national development and general well-being.