Cocoa sector benefits from €25m EU sustainability programme

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Ghana has been selected among three cocoa-producing African countries to benefit from a €25million cocoa sustainability programme, aimed at strengthening relevant institutional, legal and regulatory frameworks and empowering the private sector, including farmers and cooperatives, to improve agricultural practices and comply with sustainability standards.

Ghana’s share of the fund is €8million, and the project includes periodic organisation of a local dialogue that aims at bringing actors in the industry together to deliberate on issues which will promote the industry and, more importantly, address sustainability concerns across the value chain.

Some of the issues that have become matters of concern include environmental protection, which borders on ensuring the sustainability of supply chains; as well as labour rights, which also address living incomes for cocoa farmers and child labour.

To deepen the dialogue locally, three (3) thematic working groups will be organised in the months to come. The themes will be on child labour, deforestation, and the coordination of development assistance and finance in support of sustainable cocoa.

Speaking at the event that was organised virtually, the EU Head of Mission to Ghana, Ambassador Diana Acconcia, said the EU is passionate about tackling sustainability challenges in the cocoa sector, as the bloc is the second-largest producer of chocolates

“The challenges of the sector are known: they begin with the poverty of farmers – at the mercy of fluctuations in the world market, and marginalised in the sharing of profits that benefit the downstream parts of the value chain. And here I must recognise the joint-efforts by Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire by agreeing on the LID. Ensuring the profitability of cocoa farming is key to solving the other issues affecting sustainability of cocoa.

“Child labour and deforestation are the two sustainability issues most often associated with cocoa, and they are at the core of our dialogue. How to define, trace and possibly certify cocoa to reassure consumers all over the world that the chocolate they eat is not bitter with human misery and environmental damage will be the key questions we have to debate,” she said.

To further affirm Europe’s willingness to support the country’s cocoa sector, Mrs. Acconcia said the EU will include sustainable cocoa in the next seven-year programme for the country.

“I am glad to announce that sustainable cocoa will feature as of one our interventions under our programming 2021-2027. The broad objective will be to achieve sustainable cocoa production that provides a living income to the farmers, end deforestation and child labour, and contributes to public revenues. The related actions will start in 2 years’ time.

“We are now busy framing this support and aim at starting the project design toward the end of 2021. The working group discussions in the coming months will feed into the formulation of this future intervention,” she said.

Ghana is the second-largest producer of cocoa in the world. Cocoa is an important commodity, being the third export product of Ghana. It is by far the first agriproduct exported. Europe is the largest market for cocoa (valued at €53billion in 2019). Europe is the world’s largest chocolate producer, housing many of the world largest chocolate manufacturers; and Europeans are the first consumers of chocolate in the world.

Support will focus on the local dialogue and the provision of technical assistance to (i) strengthen relevant institutional, legal and regulatory frameworks; and (ii) empower the private sector – including farmers and cooperatives – to improve agricultural practices and comply with sustainability standards.

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