President Nana Akufo-Addo and President Alassane Ouattara

Ghana and neighbouring Côte d’Ivoire have finally established a common secretariat to maximise their potential in the production of cocoa.

The two countries produce 65% of the entire world’s cocoa, making them the biggest producers.

The decision to therefore come together to set up a common secretariat headquartered in Ghana, is seen as a quest to build vibrant cocoa sectors in their respective countries and to guarantee the income of cocoa farmers to a new high.

The Côte d’Ivoire-Ghana Cocoa Initiative (CIGCI) Secretariat, which is situated in the Roman Ridge enclave, is to enable the two countries to among other things, find a common solution to the issues of pricing, traceability, regulating, and market outlook of the cash crop.

Speaking at the commissioning of the secretariat on Thursday evening, President Akufo-Addo admitted that there are common challenges that Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire face in the cocoa sector.

He was therefore confident that the establishment of the CIGCI was a major step to greater heights as envisaged by the strategic partnership agreement between Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

“It is important for me to reiterate that Ghana is proud to host the headquarters of this initiative. Our commitment to collective action for the attainment of prosperity for all in Africa remains undiminished.

“We believe our development lies in our collective efforts towards industrialisation and fair trade within and outside the continent of Africa,” he said, adding that “our quest for agro-industrialisation is repositioning the dynamics of the agricultural sector.”

The cocoa sector in Ghana, the President said, is witnessing the impact of these changes.

He therefore saw the establishment of the new secretariat as not just historic but what regional unity and cooperation can achieve.

For him, “It also represents our shared aspiration for a prosperous cocoa economy, one that is modernised and industrialised in delivering wealth to the millions of hardworking cocoa farmers and producers in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire,” whilst insisting that “this cooperation is the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the African cocoa industry.”

That, he said, was because “we have, through this cooperation, created the opportunity to revolutionarise the cocoa supply chain for the delivery of greater value to our economies.”

Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire, S.E.M Robert Beugré Mambé, who represented the President of Cote d’Ivoire, President Alassane Ouattara, on his part said his country stands ready to work hand in hand with Ghana to ensure that cocoa farmers in the two West African states reap the full benefits of their labour.

He added that his country will give the needed leadership direction to the CIGCI in order to achieve all its stated objectives.

Ghana’s Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr. Bryan Acheampong, who doubles as the Chairman of the CIGCI Steering Committee, noted that the Côte d’Ivoire-Ghana cocoa initiative is a clear example of how the cooperation between the two countries through their respective heads of state can overcome many challenges for the benefit of the people of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

“The new office of the Côte d’Ivoire-Ghana Cocoa Initiative is now fully operational, and this commissioning further materialises the vision of the two member countries’ heads of state, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and President Alassane Ouattara of Côte d’Ivoire,” he said.

Background to CIGCI

The world cocoa market is characterised by pronounced volatility and a decline in prices in real terms of about 2% per year over the last half century. Over the same period, value creation has been concentrated in the downstream segments of the market.

The differentiation of processed products has led to a relative stability of final prices, with a consequent decline in the price received by the producer as a percentage of the final price, now estimated at 5%. Once an economy of prosperity, the cocoa economy has now become an economy of poverty for the millions of small-scale producers unable to earn a decent income.

The unsustainability of the economic model of this sector is coupled with a lack of environmental and social sustainability. This is evidenced by the erosion of forest cover due to the opening up of pioneering frontiers in many producing countries, as well as the use of child and forced labour.

Without correcting the many market failures, the cocoa economy is destined to become a counter-model of sustainability. Concerned by the economic, social and environmental consequences of this state of affairs, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, which now account for more than 60% of world production, have chosen to transform the cocoa business model.

In partnership with importing countries, they have decided to correct the market failures one by one, so that the price reflects the social value of the product and ensures a decent remuneration for the producer as well as better environmental and social practices. There is now a consensus among economic actors that a remunerative price is the first milestone on the road to sustainable cocoa.

In the “Abidjan Declaration” made on March 26, 2018, Alassane Ouattara, President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana reaffirmed their willingness to define a common sustainable cocoa strategy on this basis, with a view to increasing the prices received by cocoa farmers in their respective countries in a sustainable way.

It is in this context that, in order to give substance to the political will of the two heads of state, the regional organisation known as the Côte d’Ivoire-Ghana Cocoa Initiative (CIGCI) was set up, with a Charter.

The secretariat, which is the operational body, is based in Accra, Ghana, and is permanently headed by an Executive Secretary of Ivorian nationality, appointed by Côte d’Ivoire.

The organisation is expected to open up to other African cocoa producing countries.

Main Objectives

Essentially, the vision of CIGCI is to transform the current cocoa sector into a prosperous and sustainable one in line with the common ambition shared by most operators to provide decent wages to cocoa producers, contribute to the protection of forests and biodiversity, and be exemplary in terms of fundamental social and human rights.

The CIGCI has six main objectives that drive its mandate.

The CIGCI aims to achieve remunerative prices and improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers; process, promote, and enhance consumption and utilisation of cocoa; promote, foster, and defend the common interest of member countries in the international cocoa market and at all relevant international fora.

Other objectives include to learn, innovate, and collaborate in tackling challenges facing cocoa production; share scientific, economic, and technical information on cocoa for mutual benefit, as well as to harmonise cocoa production and marketing policies of member countries.

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