Cocoa: the Ivorian-Ghanean mountain gives birth to a mouse

The long-awaited technical meeting between the national authorities and the cocoa industry, which was supposed to lead to the introduction of a floor price system of 2600 dollars/tonne, was ultimately a major disappointment.
Held on 3 July in Abidjan, the meeting between representatives of the world’s two leading cocoa producers (65% of global supply) and private operators in the sector did not result in any agreement. From the outset, Abidjan and Accra announced that they would include in export contracts a « subsistence income differential » clause in the order of $400/tonne, which would automatically come into effect if the world price fell below $2,600. A mechanism that, according to Yves Brahima Koné, Executive Director of the Cocoa Coffee Council (CCC), « would contribute to providing a remunerative price to producers ».
Praiseworthy in its intention, the Ivorian-Ghanaian initiative has not, however, been unanimously accepted by the sector’s industrialists. For the majority of these traders, who refuse to bear the entire risk of falling prices, it is solely up to the market to determine the « fair » price. A position that Joseph Boahen Aidoo, the boss of Cocobod (Ghana), has tasted little. « If they don’t want to pay the price we offer them, they can go elsewhere, » threatened the Ghanaian leader at a press conference, relayed by the local media. However, other major names in the sector have preferred to play the role of appeasement. Quoted by Reuters, John Ament, Global Vice President of Cocoa for March, confirmed that his group « supports the measures taken by governments to intervene in order to achieve a higher price leading to a substantial increase in what is paid to the farmer ». The door to negotiations is therefore far from closed, and Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana have already indicated that they will initiate new meetings with stakeholders in the cocoa sector.