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GHANA: Cadbury’s Deal Destined to Sweeten More Farmers’ Lives

Francis Kokutse

ACCRA, Mar 31 2009 (IPS) - The initiative linking British chocolate giant Cadbury’s with a Ghanaian cooperative representing 40,000 cocoa farmers is set to grow further and enhance the livelihoods of more farmers.

Cadbury’s announced at the beginning of this month that it would henceforth source fair-trade cocoa from Ghana based on a deal with non-profit organisation Fairtrade Foundation, the UK member of Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International. The foundation licenses use of the fair-trade mark in the UK in line with internationally agreed faire-trade standards.

The UK’s most popular chocolate brand has decided to buy its cocoa from the Kuapa Kooko cooperative, which will add 750,000 dollars per annum to about 40,000 farmers’ existing income from sales to the statutory regulator, the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD).

‘‘This means an extra income for the farmers. We will also be able to go on with the extension services that have already been initiated by Cadbury’s under its cocoa partnership service in Ghana,’’ explained Kuapa Kooko chief executive Kwabena Ohemeng Tinayase.

‘‘What we have seen under our partnership with Cadbury’s, through Fairtrade, is an arrangement that is going to sustain the cocoa sector as well as boost production.’’

Through its affiliations with Fairtrade, the cooperative is able to pay a guaranteed premium price to the farmers – higher than what the government is paying.

Cadbury’s involvement with Kuapa Kooko will eventually triple the amount of Fairtrade-certified cocoa from Ghana – from 5,000 to 15,000 tons per year.

As well as ensuring minimum prices, cocoa farmers’ organisations will receive Fairtrade premiums of 1.5 million dollars in the first year alone for investment by local communities.

‘‘We will also be working alongside local organisations to help organise more groups of cocoa farmers into co-operatives and work with them to achieve Fairtrade standards,’’ said Alex Cole, corporate affairs director for Cadbury’s, in a statement.

‘‘We hope that by combining the expertise and standards of Fairtrade with work being done in the Cadbury Cocoa Partnership, this move will lead to a more sustainable future for tens of thousands of cocoa farmers, their families and villages,’’ he added.

The Ghanaian government cannot be said to be sitting back either. The authorities have long realised that the cocoa sector is in a crisis and have tried various means to improve the earning of the farmers so that cocoa farming could become attractive for young people. Most of the present generation of farmers are getting old.

Presenting his 2009 budget earlier this month, minister for finance and economic planning Kwabena Duffuor stated that the cocoa farmers housing scheme, which seeks to provide affordable houses for cocoa farmers, ‘‘has taken off’’.

The department of rural housing has completed houses in the Western Region and will extend the project to the Central, Ashanti and the Brong Ahafo Regions. All these efforts are aimed at lifting the living standards of cocoa farmers.

One such farmer is 70-year-old Kwasi Gyan from Nankese outside Accra: ‘‘What we get (from government) is normally not enough. Most of us turn to money lenders to raise money when the need arises and they charge so much interest.’’

Talking to him reveals what may still prevent some cocoa farmers from pushing to be included in the new deal. When IPS asked him if he had heard of Kuapa Kooko cooperative that is offering a guaranteed price to its members, he replied in the affirmative.

‘‘There is even such a group near where I farm. I have heard of the good things they do for their members but I do not sell my cocoa to them. My family sells to another company,’’ Gyan said.

Tinayase is not surprised by Gyan’s attitude: ‘‘Old family affiliations to other buying companies over the years have prevented some farmers from getting involved with Kuapa Kooko Limited.’’

Hopefully, in time, Gyan will join the 40,000 farmers of the Kuapa Kooka cooperative. He told IPS: ‘‘When I have carefully studied and understood what they really stand for, I may change my mind to be part of that family.’’

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