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Business News of Saturday, 2 November 2013

Source: myjoyonline.com

Ghana Cocoa Platform to coordinate certification programmes

The Ghana Cocoa Platform would be looking at the effective coordination of cocoa certification programmes, as it begins work to find solutions to challenges impeding cocoa production.

The initiative of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) is aimed at enhancing public-private dialogue and joint action planning to help scale up sustainable cocoa production. “If the one million metric tonne target is not being achieved, why is it not being achieved? What can stakeholders do in order to get to that level?” quizzed Rita Owusu Amankwah, National Coordinator of Ghana Cocoa Platform.

Ghana's licensed buying companies are increasingly falling in line with the production of certified and traceable cocoa, as the global chocolate and cocoa industry rapidly moves towards certified cocoa marketing. As these programmes are driven by external organizations, there have been calls for the COCOBOD to play a lead role in establishing Ghanaian standards in the cocoa trade.

Mrs. Owusu Amankwah told Luv Biz Report the Platform will engage interest groups in a coordinated manner to discuss and decide how to develop and harmonize cocoa certification programmes. These programmes require that farmers’ social, environmental and economic activities are in line with legitimate and best labour practices, in exchange for a premium price on the produce.

The Platform will also help tackle the impact of illegal mining activities (galamsey) on cocoa farms and issues of farming with trees. A 10-member Steering Committee was inaugurated last week and tasked with the responsibility of identifying bottlenecks and developing plans for the improvement in priority areas of the cocoa sector to boost production.

The private sector, according to Mrs. Owusu Amankwah, plays a crucial role if sustainability in the sector is to be achieved. She is confident the Platform will be a major intervention to increase the fortunes of the cocoa sector.

“I believe strongly that this is an opportunity offered to all stakeholders in the cocoa sector to contribute and make sure that the cocoa sector is organized and coordinated in a sustainable way, so that everybody will benefit”. Interest groups include farmers, licensed buying companies, transporters and regulators.

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