The long standing battle between cocoa producers in both Ghana, Ivory Coast and the U.S.-based Hershey is taking another drastic twist following the cancelation of all sustainability schemes. This is after two American chocolate makers reneged on a pledge to pay premiums of $400 per ton of Cocoa. In a letter written by both the Ivorian and Ghanaian cocoa regulators, the U.S. based company is accused of sourcing unusual high volume of physical cocoa on the ICE futures exchange in order to avoid paying premiums, known as a living income differential (LID) to elevate poverty levels in the countries among local farmers. The arrangement, called the decent income differential, is meant to help improve the lives of peasant farmers, the producers of the cocoa crop. Abidjan and Accra have accused the companies – Hershey and Mars of changing their suppliers and of sourcing cheaper cocoa beans in a bid to avoid paying the premiums. Ivory Coast and Ghana are the world’s leading producers of cocoa. But much of the crop is exported to international markets in its raw form, sometimes with little value addition. The Ivorian and Ghanaian cocoa councils have accused the companies of a conspiracy to keep farmers in poverty. In a response, Hershey said it was sourcing the crop according to ‘the needs of our business’ while Mars claimed it had supported initiatives to improve incomes and livelihoods of farmers.
SOURCE: AFRICA NEWS