WEST AFRICA – Ivory Coast and Ghana, the two West African nations who together produce more than 60% of the world’s cocoa, have pledged to further strengthen and expand the existing economic relations on cocoa and other related matters between their respective countries.

In August 2020, the two countries formed the Ivory Coast-Ghana Cocoa Initiative (ICCIG) aimed to promote their cocoa industries internationally and defend their collective position in the global market.

To that end, the two countries are expected to expedite action on the setting up of a permanent Secretariat to coordinate the joint cocoa policy initiatives and programmes.

Mr Alex Arnaud Assanvo, an Ivorian, and former Director of Corporate Affairs for Europe and Africa at Mars Inc. is set to become its first Executive Secretary, indicated COCOBOD in a press-release.

The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and Le Conseil Cafe Cacao (CCC) of Côte d’Ivoire have also reviewed the performance of the new cocoa trading mechanism and its Living Income Differential component.

Mr Alex Arnaud Assanvo, an Ivorian, and former Director of Corporate Affairs for Europe and Africa at Mars Inc. is set to become its first Executive Secretary

After several attempts, over decades, the governments of the two countries in 2017 committed themselves to a historic cooperation to ensure, among other things that, the incomes of farmers in the two countries are improved.

Through the joint effort of the cocoa regulatory organisations of the two countries, a roadmap was agreed to harmonise the cocoa trading strategies of the two cocoa producers.

Further to the cooperation, the two countries announced a new cocoa trading mechanism which had as a component, a fixed Living Income Differential (LID) of US$400.00 per tonne, for every cocoa sold by the two countries starting from the 2020/2021 season.

Ivory Coast, Ghana push cocoa industry to boost premium payments

In the current season, the two countries have asked cocoa and chocolate companies to pay more in premiums to support farmers’ wages.

However, Yves Kone, the head of Ivory Coast’s Coffee and Cocoa Council (CCC), acknowledged that the countries have limited leverage to force the hands of companies suffering from a fall in global demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ivory Coast, according to Reuters was forced to repeatedly slash a separate quality premium that exporters pay, known as the country differential, in response to weak sales.

In February, the CCC turned the premium into a more than US$350-per-tonne discount, mostly cancelling out the LID. Ghana has also lowered its country differential.

But both countries expect to soon resume talks with the producers to negotiate better pay for the produce.

Care International, Mars Incorporated empower Ghanaian women cocoa farmers

In other related news, American confectionery maker Mars Incorporated and Care International have launched a five-year project aimed at enhancing the socio-economic livelihoods of 27,000 women in 112 cocoa growing communities in the Bono and Ahafo Regions.

The overall objectives of the “Women for Change”, (W4C) project, is to expand village savings and loan initiatives of women in the beneficiary communities.

This would strengthen financial literacy, household savings, and income-generating activities, and greatly impact on the socio-economic livelihoods of women cocoa farmers and make life better for them.

Under the project, expected to end by September 2025, beneficiaries would be linked to financial services, Village Savings and Loans (VSLAs), and other cash grant programmes to help alleviate their plight in the midst of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).

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