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General News
African cocoa ministers meeting opens 9/4/2007
Accra, Sept. 3, GNA - African Ministers from cocoa producing nations are meeting in Accra to review last year''s Abuja Declaration on the cocoa industry which called for a radical change in the world cocoa economy and urged African cocoa producing countries to be proactive to guarantee fair prices for the products.

The meeting would also chart a common policy direction for the industry on the continent and adopt measures to avoid a possible glut on the international market.

The meeting, which precedes the Second African Cocoa Summit slated for Wednesday under the theme: "Defining a Policy Roadmap Towards a Sustainable African Cocoa Economy," would address challenges such as price volatility, child labour and value addition.

Speaking at the opening of the meeting on Monday, Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, underscored the importance of the sector to African economies and called for the creation of a secretariat to facilitate the implementation of resolutions adopted.

He said, at present the Cocoa Producers'' Alliance (COPAL) was the only organisation that promoted the interest of African cocoa producers at international cocoa conferences.

The Minister expressed concern that, of the 17 African cocoa producing countries, only seven were members of COPAL.

"There is strength in unity so I wish to urge all our colleague cocoa producing countries to join COPAL to facilitate implementation of our policies to achieve our common objectives," Mr. Baah-Wiredu said. He renewed Ghana''s pledge to contribute and support any effort to sustain the African cocoa economy and informed the meeting that the country was implementing most of the policies formulated by COPAL and the International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO) as well as the Abuja Declaration.

The Abuja Declaration was adopted in May last year when Nigeria hosted the first African Cocoa Summit, which was spearheaded by former President Olusegun Obasajo.

Mr. Sona Ebai, Secretary General of COPAL, recalled some highlights of the Abuja Summit and said with Ghana taking over the baton, there was the need to fashion out policy guidelines as countries measured progress made so far.

Giving an overview of the world cocoa economy, Mr Ebai identified some principal characteristics such as acute volatility of prices translating into strong fluctuation in what is paid to farmers and geographic concentration in the production and export of cocoa with 75 per cent coming from West and Central Africa. He said cocoa had conquered the world through its economic and social values, as well as the nutritional and health benefits. Mr. Ebai said, in spite of the interest and expansion in Asia and the rehabilitation in the Americas, Africa would continue to remain the major producing zone in the world not just for the short to medium term but also the long term.

He said this presented great opportunities and great responsibilities to ensure that supplies were adequate to satisfy today''s market needs and that the precursors for adequate supplies of tomorrow''s needs were left intact.

Mr Ebai said the responsibility must also focus on those who laboured for the crop to receive adequate remuneration or in periods when the market was down to receive an equitable portion of the wealth along the cocoa chain.

He said there was the need to spread the good news on the virtues of cocoa to promote its consumption all over the world.

Welcoming the delegates, Mr Isaac Osei, Chief Executive of the Ghana Cocoa Board, said sustainable development policies encompassed three interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars of economic development, social benefits and environmental protection. He said the discussion on the policy roadmap towards sustainable African cocoa economy would focus on farm profitability, prosperous farming communities and good environmental stewardship. ICCO would hold a Roundtable in Accra next month on the theme: "Roundtable on a Sustainable World Cocoa Economy."Source:
GNA


 
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