Cocoa farmers urged to comply with EU Due Diligence regulations on deforestation
Cocoa farmers have been advised to comply with the European Union (EU)’s Due Diligence regulations, especially deforestation to enable the country’s cocoa products enter the EU markets.
According to Mr Obed Owusu-Addai, Co-founder of Managing Campaigner for EcoCare Ghana, a civil society organisation, the current EU Due Diligence Regulations proposal on deforestation forbid producer countries from planting five commodities including cocoa in forest reserves or expanding the growing of the commodity into any forests as defined by the EU.
He noted the regulation which would be in full force by 2024 or 2025, may cause inconveniences for Ghanaian cocoa farmers, but advised stakeholders to ensure compliance for foreign exchange benefits.
Mr Owusu-Ansah made the statement at a day’s workshop organised by SEND Ghana for cocoa farmers and the media in Koforidua.
It was to create awareness and increase knowledge of participants on current development on cocoa price policy and living income and to educate them on the EU’s Due Diligence Proposal as well as discuss its implications on cocoa farmers and the country’s cocoa sector at large.
In explaining the regulation proposal, Mr Owusu-Ansah stated that the regulation included deforestation free requirements which prevented the farmers from planting in the forest reserves, adherence to laws of origin countries and due diligence obligations.
He explained the need to follow the regulations, revealing that currently, there were no laws in the country that forbade anyone from cutting down an area or forest to do agriculture, adding that per the practice of cocoa farming in the country, most farmers expanded their farms after a year, with some expanding even into such areas.
That he said, was to enable the farmers to acquire additional income annually, considering the “terrible pricing they get on the international market.”
Mr Owusu however, called on COCOBOD and other stakeholders in the cocoa sector to ensure to engage the EU to renegotiate and discuss these issues of pricing to enable the farmers get better pricing for the products, adding it would prevent them from expanding their farms into forest areas.
He stated the need to educate the farmers on the regulations and also called for the review of agriculture laws to force the farmers to abide by the regulations.
He stated even though the EU regulation proposal would inconvenience the Ghanaian cocoa farmer, it would help to prevent the loss of the country’s forest covers and create a micro environment and climate for the good growth of the country’s cocoa.
The Project Officer of SEND Ghana and Coordinator for Ghana Civil Society Cocoa Platform, Nana Kwasi Barning Ackah, said his outfit was working with INKOTA, their German partners to increase the welfare of farmers by building their capacity through the workshop.
“We realised that when it comes to pricing of cocoa and on the producer price review committee, cocoa farmers were inadequately represented across the country and this decreases their voice even though pricing affect them most. A lot of them do not have knowledge of what was going on in the cocoa sector, especially with the EU Regulations proposal,” he said.
Nana Ackah said the workshop would provide them the opportunity to know what was happening in the cocoa sector, adding that their capacity would be built to enable them contribute positively to the sector as well as benefit them.
He called on the media to collaborate with the cocoa farmers to highlight the concerns and plight the farmers go through, adding it would help address their challenges.
FROM AMA TEKYIWAA AMPADU AGYEMAN, KOFORIDUA