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General News of Thursday, 31 August 2000

Source: Panafrican News Agency

Government Backs Withdrawal of 250,000 Tonnes of Cocoa

Ghana Thursday said it is committed to the withdrawal of 250,000 metric tonnes of cocoa from the world market as a means of boosting prices.

This should, however, be the outcome of the co- operative effort by African cocoa producers to implement the decision taken during their meeting on 15 July in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire.

African Cocoa Producers, in the Abidjan Declaration, agreed to withdraw 250,000 tonnes of poor quality cocoa beans from the market.

Alhaji Mahama Iddrisu, adviser on Governmental Affairs, said this at the opening of a two-day consultative meeting of selected African cocoa producing countries in Accra.

The meeting, attended by Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Nigeria, and Cameroon, is a follow-up to the Abidjan meeting.

It is aimed at working out a strategy to improve the world market price of cocoa following the persistent fall to a 27-year low.

World cocoa prices have fallen from an average of 1,794 US dollars per tonne to about 800 dollars per tonne, showing a loss of 994 dollars per tonne. This translates to about 397.8 million dollars in cocoa export revenue for Ghana alone.

Iddrisu urged other member governments to give their National Technical Committees on Cocoa the necessary impetus to take such decisions more quickly.

"I wish to emphasise that efforts which our technical personnel are making to reverse the current low prices of cocoa, require the political commitment from our respective governments," he said.

He also urged the technical committees to proceed to the practical implementation of the Abidjan Declaration dispassionately in order to bring lasting relief to the millions of people whose livelihoods are still tied to the survival of the cocoa industry.

He said that even though African countries are diversifying their economies, they could not escape the fact that the cocoa industry will continue to be of major importance.

"We therefore have an obligation to our hardworking cocoa farmers to secure fair returns for their efforts," he added.

He hoped that the decision to withdraw poor quality cocoa, beginning from the 2000/2001 season, could bring about the desired improvement in prices in the short run.