Mighty Earth responds to 2022 Cocoa Barometer

Any sustainability initiatives will fail until companies pay more for cocoa, warns newly-published report 2022 Cocoa Barometer.

The report, which was co-published by advocacy organisation Mighty Earth, focuses on sustainability issues within global cocoa supply chains including child labour and deforestation, according to the 2022 Cocoa Barometer.

Conclusions drawn from the report is that currently, approaches to addressing farmer poverty are not going to bridge the income gap, and a combination of public policies, private sector purchasing practices and agricultural solutions are all needed.

The Barometer, which has been developed by the VOICE Network, of which Mighty Earth is a member, highlighted that there a wide range of problems face cocoa farming households including child labour, lack of access to education and gender inequality.

“Commodity traders and chocolate companies talk a good talk about wanting to protect forests and tackle social problems such as child labour that continue to plague the cocoa industry. But ultimately, they need to put their money where their mouth is by paying farmers more so they can earn a living income for growing cocoa sustainably,” said Dr Julian Oram, Senior Director, Mighty Earth.

From the cocoa cooperative ECAM in Côte d’Ivoire, Yao Kouame Martia spoke of their issues in selling cocoa: “In the past, after selling my cocoa beans, I used to plan my expenses and charges for my household, but this is becoming very difficult now. Prices of products are far beyond my provisions. I have children to care about and I‘m struggling to pay their school fees.”

New data and models launched within the Barometer confirm that development measures aimed at increasing productivity and diversification will be “ineffective” without addressing closing the living income gap by offering higher prices for cocoa. In the same vein, development programmes on their own aren’t effective in reducing deforestation without eliminating the use of hazardous pesticides and adopting long-term, good agricultural practices.

According to the VOICE Network, raising productivity or increasing farm size cannot work in isolation to addressing the problems in the global cocoa supply chain.

“Paying a higher price is inevitable if the living income gap is to be closed. Interventions such as the Ivorian-Ghanaian Living Income Differential are necessary first steps, but companies need to go far beyond that to ensure the farmgate price goes up,”  explained Antonie Foundation, Director of the VOICE Network.

“The one thing that affects us farmers is the pricing of cocoa beans. In fact, pricing is a disincentive to cocoa farmers,” explained Hayford Duodu, a Cocoa Farmer located in Ghana.

Recent efforts by the EU in establishing due dilligence aimed at reducing deforestation and increasing biodiversity in the cocoa supply chain are a “welcome step”, according to Mighty Earth, in establishing a more transparent supply chain and keeping companies accountable for their purchasing practices.

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