Rescind decision to cancel Cocoa Sector Sustainability Programme – Cocoa farmers to COCOBOD

Three cocoa farmers’ cooperative groups have asked the Ghana COCOBOD to rescind its decision to cancel the Cocoa Sector Sustainability Programme (CSSP) saying, any cancellation would spell doom for Ghana’s cocoa sector.

The CSSP was initiated to support cocoa farmers during the normal and off-seasons as part of measures to increase cocoa production, deal with child protection and development as well as enhance socio-economic activities.

The groups also urged COCOBOD not to use the CSSP as a bargaining tool with chocolate companies for the payment of $400 per tonnes premium on chocolate to cocoa farmers.

Speaking in separate interviews with the Ghanaian Times, the cooperative groups argued that, should COCOBOD go ahead to cancel the CSSP “the lives of our family and the entire sector will take a nose dive.”

The groups were represented by the president of Asunafo North Municipal Cooperative Cocoa Farmers and Marketing Union, Mr Emmanuel Sarpong;   president of Amansie West Cooperative Cocoa farmers Union, Rev Thomas Oppong and the president of Fanteakwa Cooperative Union, Mr Humphrey Ayisi.

They contended that the CSSP was conceived to tackle multiple challenges facing the cocoa sector and a cancellation would undo all the gains made so far.

Ghana and Ivory Coast, which together produce about 60 per cent of the world’s cocoa – the main ingredient used in the manufacturing of chocolate, in July this year met major buyers and producers in Accra and Abidjan respectively  to determine  cocoa beans’ price.

The two countries jointly tabled a price of US$2,600 per tonne of cocoa effective next October, below which they would not sell the commodity.

Meanwhile, Child Rights International (CRI), a child-centered organisation, earlier this week, issued a statement calling on COCOBOD not to toy with the CSSP because of its numerous benefits to farmers.

The organisation explained that it was not against the price negotiation for the premium, but the intention of using the CSSP to compel chocolate companies to pay more was a policy mistake.

Explaining why the group does not support CSSP cancellation, Mr Sarpong said every government intervention programmes for cocoa farmers had been effective because of the CSSP, and wondered why such an initiative would be on the negotiation table for a premium price on cocoa.

On his part, Rev Oppong said the group “is shocked that it has come to a point where CSSP has been put on a scale weight,” adding that, “this shouldn’t even happen in the first place; COCOBOD says they are yet to make a decision and that they will announce it on Friday.  Cocoa farmers cannot afford to lose CSSP.”

Mr Ayisi, on his part, said the group would expect that after “Friday’s announcement,  it will mean that  cocoa farmers will still have the CSSP available.”

BY AGNES OPOKU SARPONG

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