Strengthen trading, pricing mechanisms — Cocoa farmers to West African leaders

Ghanaian cocoa farmers are calling on West African leaders to take advantage of the soaring international market prices of cocoa to strengthen the sector.
They believe the current international market prices of cocoa present an opportunity for cocoa farmers in West Africa to benefit from the full value of cocoa production and ensure better living conditions for farmers to produce cocoa sustainably.

The call comes at a time when the volatility in cocoa prices has made it more expensive to maintain positions in cocoa futures as margins have sharply increased, prompting traders to close out trades, which drains liquidity and makes the market more vulnerable to large price swings.

Cocoa prices saw an extraordinary rally this year to all-time highs last Friday on supply concerns. Due to limited supplies, global cocoa grinders are paying up in the cash market to secure cocoa supplies this year due to growing concerns that West African cocoa suppliers may default on supply contracts.

On April 11, Bloomberg reported that the Ghana Cocoa Board was negotiating with major cocoa traders to postpone the delivery of at least 150,000 MT to 250,000 MT of cocoa until next season due to a lack of beans. Cocoa prices have rallied sharply since the beginning of the year, driven by the worst supply shortage in 40 years.

The Founder and Chairperson of the solely women-led cocoa farmers’ cooperative Cocoa Mmaa, Leticia Yankey, said strengthening the trading and pricing mechanism will enable regulators in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire to come out with impartial farm gate price that would help farmers to produce more cocoa as well as help reduce poverty in cocoa farming communities across West Africa.
She explained that impartial farm gate price will encourage Ghanaian and Ivorian cocoa farmers to practice the culture of honesty and openness.


Ms. Yankey was speaking at the 5th World Cocoa Conference in Brussels, Belgium organised by the International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO) under the theme “Paying more for a Sustainable Cocoa”.The Conference brought together stakeholders of the cocoa value chain including policy makers, financial institutions, logistics companies, international aid and development agencies from across the world to exchange views and identify solutions for the sustainability of the sector.

Cocoa production

Ghana has in the last two crop seasons, failed to meet its average annual cocoa production target of 850,000 metric tonnes, thereby adversely impacting local grinding and export.

Ms. Yankey admits that the current climate conditions in cocoa growing communities was also one of the major factors impacting negatively on cocoa production and resulting in low yields in cocoa growing regions.“We are calling on our governments to intervene immediately because for every step you need a specific weather condition and specific farm inputs to succeed.

The climate change has disrupted the process of managing a cocoa farm, you need rain at a point in time, you need the sun and humidity at a point in time as well to dry,” she said.

For his part, the Chairman of the Cocoa Abrabopa Cocoa Farmers Cooperative, Ishmael Pomasi indicated that most Ghanaian farmers were missing out on their production target due to unpredictable rainfall patterns in the West Africa region.

cocoa farmers

He expressed worry over how climate change was negatively impacting cocoa production at a time that land area for farming activities is reducing drastically through illegal mining.“The delays in rains has brought us a great loss. It has not been easy for myself and other farmers as we lost almost all our investments in the farming business.

“The sustainability agenda must focus more on provision of irrigation systems across cocoa growing communities in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire; substantive investment is needed in irrigation systems to help sustain our cocoa industry.“It is my hope that farmer groups in our region will adopt good agricultural practices in their operations” Pomasi said.

Also sharing his views, Managing Director of VOICE Network, Antonie Fountain, believes that making the consumer the solution to challenges facing the cocoa farmer in West Africa is not an option.“Large cocoa and chocolate companies must be made to pay more for their cocoa that will allow West Africa cocoa farmers to earn a living income.“We have to solve the problem of living income in the cocoa sector now, if we fail to do so now and here, we will not be able to solve other sustainability issues like child labour, deforestation, or gender inequality” he said.


In Fountain’s opinion, it’s time to stop pointing fingers at the bad guys and start looking at ourselves. Governments have to make laws and create level playing fields when making decisions on farm gate prices.

National Coordinator of the Ghana Civil-Society Cocoa Platform (GCCP), Nana Kwasi Barning Ackah, indicated that the Ghana Platform is working on creating an alliance with other African countries aimed to advocate for farmers rendered poor and marginalized.

According to him, the African Platform will educate smallholder cocoa farmers in Africa on the need to see farming as a business and the need to introduce modern agricultural practices in their farming.“Structural challenges such as aged trees, diseases, climatic challenges, among others are problems the African Platform will collectively help farmers deal with through training and partnerships” he added.

Also Read: Cocoa Crisis: Will Your Next Chocolate Cost More?

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