The government has signed an agreement with Cote d’Ivoire for Ghana to host the Cote d’Ivoire/Ghana Cocoa Initiative Secretariat.
The initiative is an organisation born out of cooperation between the two countries to better the livelihoods of their cocoa farmers.
The agreement follows the decision of the Steering Committee of the initiative to establish its secretariat in Ghana, which requires some protocols between the government and the Cote d’Ivoire/Ghana Cocoa Initiative.
By the agreement, Ghana guarantees absolute diplomatic privileges, support and protection for the secretariat.
It also gives recognition and immunity to the secretariat and further provides independence for its operations in the country.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, who has also been selected as the Founder Chairman of the Steering Committee of the initiative, said the secretariat formed part of measures to realise the vision of ensuring better incomes for cocoa farmers.
He said the charter had been finalised to guarantee the smooth establishment of the secretariat, which will be headquartered in Accra.
“Over the past few months, the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has been putting in place measures to ensure the secretariat gets a permanent office space for its operations.
“A budget containing staff strength and related emoluments, logistics and other operational costs has been drafted by the steering committee for consideration and adoption to enable the secretariat to start full operations soon,” he stated.
Dr Akoto congratulated the newly appointed Executive Secretary of the secretariat, Mr Alex Arnaud Assanvo from Cote d’Ivoire, assuring him of the ministry’s support.
“We are confident that his vast experience in similar roles abroad will help him deliver to our expectations. We are optimistic that we will achieve the ultimate vision of securing decent incomes for cocoa farmers in our respective countries,” the minister said.
Breathing life into initiative
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Cote d’Ivoire, Mr Kobenan Kouassi Adjoumani, for his part, said the agreement signaled the breathing of life into the initiative.
He said the secretariat was a critical framework that would serve as a collaborative tool to promote the interests of the two countries on the global market, with regard to cocoa.
“In developing that strategy, it is important to have competent staff who will work together with the Executive Secretary, who was appointed at the last steering committee meeting,” Mr Adjoumani said.
He urged the Executive Secretary to give of his best to help overcome the challenges in the industry.
Ghana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, in a keynote address, said Ghana was committed to building closer a relationship with the government and the people of Cote d’Ivoire.
“We are pleased that the cooperation between our two countries contributes to advancing the economic development of our respective countries, the most recent being the adoption of various sustainability initiatives which will guarantee decent incomes for cocoa farmers,” she stated.
Ms Botchwey applauded COCOBOD and its counterpart in Cote d’Ivoire, the Le Consell du Café- Cacao (CCC), for the bold and decisive initiatives taken to further deepen the exemplary cooperation with the establishment of the Cote d’Ivoire/Ghana Cocoa Initiative.
“This will benefit the millions of cocoa farmers whose products are the key ingredient for the thriving chocolate market but are deprived of decent returns due to unfavourable global cocoa prices,” the minister noted.
The Chief Executive of COCOBOD, Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, said the decision to bring the secretariat to Accra had gained more weight and leverage with the physical presence of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat.
He said a number of countries had already started knocking at the doors of the initiative to join.
“The day is, therefore, coming when the secretariat in Accra will be serving not only Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire but all cocoa producing countries in the West African subregion and beyond,” Mr Aidoo stated.