It’s time for a solution to cocoa farmers’ exploitation wahala – Snr. Researcher at Oxfam


Uwe Gneiting, a senior researcher at Oxfam America’s Private Sector Department, has found that the current era is the most advantageous to address the long-standing issue of the heinous exploitation of Ghanaian cocoa farmers by the major businesses that control the cocoa supply chain.

On Thursday, June 1, 2023, he revealed this in a skype interview with Andrea Sanke, the host of TRT World’s premier news programme The Newsmakers, about ‘Ghana Cocoa Farmers Exploitation’.

Even though the issue is not new, Uwe is optimistic that it can be resolved given the commitment of all sector players, especially the companies involved.

I think it’s really more question of will than of ability and currently we simply don’t see enough will especially on the side of the companies to address some of those really greatest grievances”, he indicated

Uwe, who is also the author of an Oxfam report on the plight of cocoa farmers in Ghana and Ivory Coast, identified poverty as the root of many sustainability problems plaguing the cocoa industry.

He urged businesses to provide living wages to the farmers in order to lift them out of their low standard of living.

In addition to offering a solution to the issue, the senior researcher for Oxfam urged businesses to reconsider their relationships with governments and their roles within them in order to help governments more effectively carry out their duties both in Ghana and elsewhere.

He emphasized the necessity of transparency in the industry and suggested strategies to shift more resources to farmers through higher prices, cash transfers, or other approaches that are hardly seen as a permanent fix.

One of Ghana’s most significant industries and a major contributor to the national economy is the cocoa sector. With about 800,000 cocoa farmers, Ghana is the second-largest producer of cocoa in the world. The heinous exploitation of Ghanaian cocoa farmers by large corporations, which is supported by the government, poses a serious threat to the livelihoods of cocoa farmers, despite the industry’s importance.

Large corporations pay extremely low prices for cocoa beans from Ghanaian farmers, paying them a tiny portion of what they should be paid. Since they have no other buyers, cocoa farmers are powerless to negotiate and are forced to accept the low prices set by these businesses. To make matters worse, Ghanaian cocoa farmers only receive a portion of their earnings, with the remainder going to these corporations, and are not paid in cash but rather in kind.

According to a study by Oxfam, more than 400 cocoa farmers in Ghana claim that since 2020, their net income has decreased by an average of 16%. Revenue for women has decreased by almost 22%.

The report highlights the inequality in the chocolate industry, with farmers receiving only a small fraction of the profits. Oxfam is calling for fairer trade practices and for companies to ensure that their supply chains are not contributing to poverty and exploitation.

The report also highlights the need for fair trade policies and practices to ensure that small-scale farmers and workers receive a fair share of the value they create, especially during times of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. Without such measures, inequality and poverty will continue to persist in the global supply chains of commodities like cocoa, coffee, and tea.

Following their exposure to the documentary film “Facing the cocoa industry’s bittersweet truth,” two other panelists, activist Elikem Kotoko and Joseph Kobla Wemakor, Executive Director of Human Rights Reporters Ghana (HRRG), expressed concern about the plight of Ghanaian and Ivorian cocoa farmers and lamented the harsh realities of their on-the-ground exploitation. The video summarizes the conclusions of the Uwe Gneiting-authored Oxfam report.

“I think it is very sad to say the least in the first place. I felt very ashamed as Ghanaian that having gained independence and have governments in place at this time and this is the quagmire our farmers are going through to think that out of 130 billion dollars only about 2 billion is actually gained by Ghana from that then we are better of reverting to the time of late Former President Kwame Nkrumah when he decided to actually burn the cocoa beans at the port to send a certain signal and to cause some changes. But we have passed that time”, said Elikem Kotoko

Elikem believes that the ‘abysmal’ exploitation of cocoa farmers must end and that it is now time for the farmers to be hungry enough to keep demanding what is rightfully theirs, which the companies have denied them with the assistance of the government.

For his part, the Executive Director of Human Rights Reporters Ghana (HRRG) Joseph Kobla Wemakor maintained that it has not been easy exposing injustices of the industry simply because the authorities sometimes do not appreciate how these exploitations have been exposed.

While commending Oxfam for producing a quality report which reflects the woes of cocoa farmers and exploitation by large corporations on the ground, he called on the Ghanaian media to heighten coverage on the issues in order to provoke the needed attention of the authorities to act and protect the rights of the farmers against further exploitation.

He pledges his outfit’s support to scale up reportage on the issue towards achieving the desired results with the aim of bringing about change in the lives of the cocoa farmers.

TRT World is Turkey’s first international English-language news network, offering in-depth reporting with a focus on global responsibility.  Headquartered in Istanbul with bureaus around the world, the TRT world operates a satellite presence in 190 countries and viewership of 260 million people, and more.

Its flagship current affairs program, The Newsmakers features in-depth reports and interviews with the drivers of the biggest stories of the week.

The news team goes to the heart of every issue, offering debates, context and commentary that disrupt conventional perspectives on international affairs.

Through the support of the host Andrea Sanke, the news team generate discussion, drive the news agenda and demand accountability from people in power.

The Newsmakers is an honest and relevant take on events that impact people around the world, and challenges the status quo.

Watch the full interview here:

By Joseph Kobla Wemakor


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