Though it is often said in most milieu that he who pays the piper calls the tune, the adage does not seem to hold when it comes to African countries exporting their produce to other continents. The recent decision by Ivory Coast and Ghana to suspend all cocoa sales transactions is a case in point. For it is unbelievable that despite the fact that these two countries are the highest cocoa producers in the world, prices of their produce are decided by foreign buyers (multinationals). In the past, some of these foreign buyers earmarked strategies such as; the cocoa beans are not well dried, it was supposed to be dried in an oven and not under the sun, storage conditions are not good, in order to continue having a strong hold on the sale prices of their produce.
Now that most of these cocoa producing countries have find-tune production, drying and storage strategies, some of the multinationals have resort to the non-respect of agreed international prices. Reasons why, Ivory Coast and Ghana have teamed up to impose a minimum floor price premium of $400 a tonne over the benchmark for the 2020/2021 season which these companies must pay if they want to access their more than 60% share of global supply. In a letter addressed to Hershey (chocolate company), the Ivorian and Ghanaian cocoa regulators accuse the company of sourcing unusually large volumes of physical cocoa on the ICE futures exchange in order to avoid the premium, known as a Living Income Differential (LID). This comes after the Cocoa Barometer, a biannual report published by civil society groups, said farmers received just 6.6% of the sale price for a bar of chocolate. Last year a Fairtrade International survey found that just 12% of Ivorian cocoa-farming households earned $2.50 per person per day, a level it calculated to be the living income benchmark.
To exhibit their determination and solidarity, the two countries are not only expecting other African countries to join them in the fight to better the conditions of farmers, but have further announced the reviewing of their membership with the Federation of Cocoa Commerce (FCC), a UK-based international organization that aims to promote, protect and regulate the cocoa trade.