What’s Christmas without feasting on chocolates and smearing the festivity with generous helpings of chocolate liquor, cocoa solids and cocoa butter! Chocolates, particularly “bitter chocolates” are in vogue across the globe but the prefix therein should cease to be the adjective that defines a cocoa farmer’s life with respect to his livelihood.
Ghana is the world’s second largest cocoa producer exporting 850,000 metric tons of cocoa each year after its neighbour – Cote d’Ivoire. This inference naturally calls for the attention of the Ghanaian government to uplift the country’s cocoa farming modalities especially because it is disheartening to note that cocoa farmers are paid only 6% of the chocolate industry’s annual worth. The lion’s share is divided among cocoa processors, chocolate manufacturers and their marketers, predominantly from the west. Added to this is the scanty income of the farmers due to unforeseen weather patterns, aging cacao trees, stingy yields and poorly managed plantations. Then there are disturbing tidings such as the recent one which accuses leading chocolate sellers of refraining from paying the ‘Living Income Differential’, an assured bonus of $400 per tonne of cocoa to cocoa farmers. Such unethical turn of events earnestly refuted by the Coffee Cocoa Council (CCC) and the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) though, leave little scope for cocoa growers to continue the sustainability programmes in which chocolate companies are involved. In fact, these factors are creating a detesting ambiance for the farmers’ children, making them rethink before pursuing cocoa farming.
As for the Ghanaian government, it continues to support the country’s cocoa producing community. With the goal to modernize cocoa farming and improve growing conditions, a project has been designed which involves 750 farmers to prepare their fields for new trees. Four tree nurseries to grow 600,000 cacao trees and 20,000 new shade trees to keep the cacao plants cool and reduce the need for watering are being built. The government has also announced a payment hike of 28% per ton to cocoa farmers.
Eliza Doolittle was pampered with chocolates in the timeless classic – My Fair Lady and why not? The world relishes chocolates & cocoa products and that should certainly underscore Ghana’s sweetitude.