Cocoa Farmers are benefiting enough from their sweat contrary to perceptions that government is not doing enough to help make their lives better.
That’s according to Deputy Director in charge of Monitoring and Evaluation at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture David Modzikah.
Cocoa farmers have recently been clamouring for increased prices and basic amenities from the government.
Currently, they earn about 70 percent of the price that accrues from the export of the pods whilst 30 percent goes to the government but the farmers say that is not enough.
Mr. Modzikah, however, says a recent study that analysed benefits that growers of various crops and other agric sector players are earning from the government showed that cocoa farmers benefited more than other crop growers.
“Government policy is positively affecting the lives of cocoa farmers…The cocoa farmers are doing well if you take the total government expenditure.
When they say 10 percent of total government expenditure is going to agriculture, do the analysis and you will realise all is going to cocoa” he said.
“When you decouple the expenditure, we say cocoa and other crops. As for the other crops, you don’t see anything. Unlike cocoa. This is the fact on the ground,” Mr. Modzikah noted.
The Deputy Director in charge of Monitoring and Evaluation at MOFA was speaking during a panel discussion at an Agriculture and Innovation Workshop as part of the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) 2017 organised by the Africa Innovation Foundation at the Movenpick Hotel in Accra.
The workshop brought together innovators, enablers and influencers in the agriculture and agribusiness sector to discuss among others how to make the best out of Africa’s Agriculture Value Chain.
Joy news’ Environment, Agriculture and Rural Development Journalist Joseph Opoku Gakpo who participated in the panel discussion on new trends in Agriculturedrew attention to widespread poverty in cocoa growing communities as a major problem that needs to be fixed to ensure sustainable production.
He called for immediate measures to reverse the absence of basic amenities like clean water, health care infrastructure, roads and electricity in a lot of cocoa growing areas as highlighted in a 2014 Joy news’ Hotline documentary he produced, christened “Poor Millionaires.”
Despite chocolate being an expensive commodity, cocoa farmers remain largely poor. Some studies have shown cocoa farmers earn less than 5 percent of the total price an average bar of chocolate is sold on the European market.
Opoku Gakpo noted the wide poverty gap between cocoa producers in West Africa and chocolate manufacturers in the developed countries can only be fixed if conscious industrialization programmes are rolled out that will see finished cocoa products being produced locally.
“I believe if there is a deliberate effort to introduce innovations that see the cocoa move from the raw state to chocolate in the cocoa growing communities, then we can be sure enough of the money in the cocoa value chain will stay there to help develop the communities,” he explained.
Togolese Media Entrepreneur Claude Grunitzky who moderated the session expressed concern farmers in his country are not benefitting either from growing the ‘golden pod,’ saying some of them cannot even afford chocolates.
“One of the things that really infuriates me when I travel the rural areas of Togo is that cocoa farmers have actually never tasted the chocolate,” he said, noting this is not good enough.
Freda Obeng-Ampofo, who is Chief Executive Officer of shea butter producing company Kaemecalled for value addition to the various raw materials produced in the country.