The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, is now the first Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Ghana-Côte d’Ivoire Cocoa Initiative.
He was elected at the committee’s first meeting yesterday in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. He would lead efforts to strengthen the Living Income Differential (LID) and other initiatives meant to enhance the livelihood of farmers.
He will preside over the committee for the next 15 months, spanning the remainder of the current cocoa season — which ends in September this year — up to the end of the next cocoa season in 2022.
It’s important to note that the steering committee is the highest decision-making body of the initiative by the two nations to secure and guarantee fair prices for their farmers.
A statement from the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) said Dr Akoto promised to use his position to advance the cause of the two countries and the interest of cocoa farmers in particular.
He said the meeting is historic and important, emphasizing that; it seeks to ensure that the vision of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire was realised.
The Agric minister however, expressed concern about the “dragging of feet” by some chocolate processors, cocoa traders and other participants in the implementation of and compliance with the LID.
He said such acts were unfriendly to efforts to ensure that the LID became the game-changer to the livelihood of farmers.
He charged the participants to ensure that all parties shared the burden of compliance within the dictates of the initiative, saying that was the only means to achieve the vision of President Akufo-Addo and his Ivorian counterpart.
The meeting was attended by all members of the steering committee.
Also present was the Chairman of the Food and Agriculture/Cocoa Affairs Committee of Ghana’s Parliament, Mr John Osei Frimpong, and his ranking member, Mr Eric Opoku.
A delegation of senior Ivorian government officials were also present at the meeting.
The LID is an initiative of COCOBOD and Le Conseil du Café Cacao (CCC) of Cote d’Ivoire, and it mandates buyers of cocoa from the two countries to pay an extra $400 on every tonne of cocoa purchased.
It became effective from July 2019 as a credible step by the two leading suppliers of cocoa to attract fairer prices for their cocoa and higher incomes for the farmers.
Last year, the government said the increment in the producer price of cocoa from GH¢8,240 to GH¢10,560 per tonne for the 2020/21 crop year was made possible by the LID.
Cote d’Ivoire also raised the price paid to farmers by almost the same margin, citing the gains from the initiative.