MP calls for protection of cocoa farmers from market manipulation

By Benjamin Mensah, GNA  

Accra, Feb. 17, GNA – Dr Kwaku Afriyie, the
Member of Parliament for Sefwi Wiawso, has called for the strengthening of
measures to protect cocoa farmers from undue price and market manipulation so
as to get enough rewards for their toils.

Without mentioning names, he said there were
some nine companies that had formed a cartel and manipulating the marketing
sector of the cocoa industry, and “we the producers must take steps to ensure
that our farmers benefit from their toils.”

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 had
no business hiding behind mainstream cocoa price negotiations to deprive
hardworking farmers and producing countries of what was rightly due them.

The MP, a former Western Regional Minister,
praised Ghanaian cocoa farmers for keeping the industry afloat and maintaining
the nation’s position as the 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 to 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 per cent of the world’s output of
cocoa, and with the global chocolate industry worth some 100 billion dollars,
it was not right that the farmers got only six billion dollars for their
effort.

Dr Afriyie, himself a cocoa famer, 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 glut and shortages to the disadvantage of majority of producers.

Dr Afriyie described chocolate as
symbolising Ghana, which has earned a cultural identity for the nation.

Aside chocolate, other cocoa products have
health benefits 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 producer of cocoa worldwide.

Dr Afriyie called for other beverages in
Ghana to be substituted with cocoa products as way of ensuring import
substitution and appealed to all  MPs and
stakeholders to sustain efforts at getting better prices for cocoa and its
products.

Mrs Barbara Oteng-Gyesi, the 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,
made it an important national product, which required utmost attention for the
nation to derive the 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 for all national school
feeding programmes.

Mrs Oteng-Gyasi used the occasion to stress
on the need “drink, eat, and wear Ghana’’ as 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 in 2005, in partnership with the Ghana Cocoa Board and the Cocoa Processing
Company to coincide with Valentine’s Day.

It is to raise awareness of the need to
patronise cocoa products as a means of helping generate more revenue for
national development and general well-being.

GNA