Nico Roozen, Honary President, Solidaridad Network, an NGO has called on Ghana and Cote d’ivoire to develop national standards to ensure sustainability in the production of cocoa.
He said the standards must focus on building partnerships to define their rules of engagement, address child labour issues and climate change dynamics in ensuring improvement in the cocoa sector.
Mr Roozen made the call in Accra during a roundtable discussion on recent cocoa developments in Europe and its implications for sustainable market access, organised by Solidaridad West Africa.
The forum, which was both virtual and physical, brought together stakeholders in the cocoa sector across the West African region to chart the path in addressing issues in the industry.
The European Union (EU) has pledged to contribute €25 million to enhance the economic, social and environmental sustainability of cocoa production in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Cameroon who are, respectively, the first, second and fifth biggest cocoa producers, generating almost 70 per cent of the world production.
The EU has proposed a sustainable legislation measures, aimed at protecting forests, curb child labour and end farmer poverty.
The EU is committed to tackling global deforestation and forest degradation.
With this legislation, Mr Roozen said it was imperative for Ghana and Cote d’ivoire to analyse the document and develop standards to forestall any challenges on certain supply chains and other concerns in the exportation of cocoa to the European Union market.
He expressed concern about child labour in the cocoa sector, urging the leaderships of Ghana and Cote d’ivoire to address the phenomenon and provide alternatives for the children.
The situation, he said affected the education and development of the child which did not augur well for holistic socio-economic growth of a country.
According to research, 97 per cent of female children are involved in child labour cases.
He charged Ghana and Cote d’ivoire to conduct economic analysis and look for solutions to replace children engaged in child labour, since it was a crime to associate them in the cocoa sector.
Mr Isaac Gyamfi, Director, Solidaridad West Africa said the discussion was to find solutions to the challenges in the cocoa sector for sustained production and development.
As civil society, he said their work was not only to hold or criticize government but also proffer solutions on national issues for national growth.
Some of the participants lauded the initiative to analyse developments in the cocoa sector and develop solutions to penetrate in the market access of Europe.
This, they said was crucial in protecting the brands and market shares of Ghana and Cote d’ivoire in the European market for cocoa production.