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14 Oct 2019

Leanne de Bassompierre and Manisha Jha, Bloomberg

Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana put pression on chocolate makers to respect the over farmers’ pay plan"

"Chocolate Makers Face Sustainability Dilemma Over Farmers’ Pay", 13 October 2019

 Chocolate makers are facing an ultimatum -- either support a contentious plan to raise the pay of impoverished farmers or risk a halt to programs that sustainability-conscious consumers increasingly demand...Ivory Coast and Ghana...are becoming frustrated by the slow uptake of a strategy adopted in July to levy a $400-a-ton premium to help improve growers’ pay. This week, they threatened to suspend programs that chocolate makers rely on to certify that their beans are not grown in protected forests or with the forced labor of children...

Chocolate makers cannot claim that they’re sourcing cocoa sustainably and at the same time hold back their support for a plan that will considerably improve the livelihoods of small-scale producers, said Yves Kone, the managing director of Ivory Coast’s industry regulator, Le Conseil du Cafe-Cacao...(CCC). The sustainability programs only serve a small number of farmers, while the new price mechanism will benefit all growers, according to the CCC...“We cannot pretend that we are working with the farmers, investing in sustainability and refusing to pay the farmer,” Kone... “Sustainability is also paying farmers and working together.”

Ivory Coast and Ghana’s price plan is designed to raise the average price for their cocoa from next October to at least $2,600 per ton, of which farmers will be paid about 70% after deducting costs. New York cocoa futures for delivery in December have averaged $2,373 per ton so far this year...“The problem here is they’re going to encourage more production of the bad kind,” said Edward George, an independent cocoa expert. “There’s a real danger of overproduction and also unsustainable and damaging production.” Without the sustainability programs, chocolate brands cannot guarantee that the cocoa they buy is not impacting protected areas and grown without child labor, said Sergey Chetvertakov, an analyst at IHS Markit’s Agribusiness Intelligence. “Such statements are demanded by consumers.”