Economics, News, Politics

A Fight Against Exploitation

Nmesoma Okwudili


May 14, 2023

The Ghana-Ivory Coast Battle For Cocoa

The history of Europe’s exploitation of Africa’s natural resources, particularly in the context of the Ghana and Ivory Coast cocoa war, is a complex issue involving multiple factors. Historically, Europe’s engagement with Africa has involved the extraction of valuable resources, which has frequently had negative effects on the African continent.

The cocoa industry has been plagued by exploitation and child labour for decades. Ghana and Ivory Coast, the two largest cocoa-producing nations, have teamed up against the West in recent years to combat these issues and secure better conditions for cocoa farmers. This article examines the cocoa conflict between Ghana and Ivory Coast and the West, highlighting their efforts to combat exploitation and promote sustainability.

West African nations Ghana and Ivory Coast have a long history of cocoa production and export. The history of the Ghana-Ivory Coast cocoa trade with the West dates back to the 15th century, when the Portuguese arrived on the coast of Ghana and began exchanging goods, including European exports such as cloth, hardware, beads, metals, spirits, arms, and ammunition for gold. Currently, West Africa supplies two-thirds of the world’s cocoa crop, with Ivory Coast producing the most at 1.8 million tonnes in 2017, followed by Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Togo, each of which produces 1.55 million tonnes. In 1978, Ivory Coast surpassed Ghana as the world’s leading producer of cocoa beans.

Ivory Coast and Ghana have recently agreed to cooperate more closely on cocoa pricing and the elimination of child labour. The cocoa industry and cocoa farmers are challenged by overproduction and declining prices on the international market. Ghana and Ivory Coast, the world’s leading cocoa producers, are accustomed to competing with one another. Nonetheless, they are now working together to address these issues.

However, despite cocoa’s economic importance, the industry has faced numerous obstacles, such as child labour, low wages for farmers, and environmental sustainability concerns. The conflict between Ghana and Ivory Coast over cocoa dates back to the late 20th century, with incidents straining their bilateral ties.

In 2018, Ghana and Ivory Coast signed the Abidjan Declaration, a historic agreement to coordinate efforts to address issues in the cocoa industry. The declaration emphasised cooperation between the two countries but lacked specific implementation details. It served as a foundation for future collaborations and laid the groundwork for their joint projects.

In an effort to reform, Ivory Coast and Ghana reached preliminary agreements in 2019 to sell cocoa with a living income premium of $400 per tonne added to the price. Ivory Coast and Ghana, two of the world’s largest producers of cocoa, will report progress in their efforts to end deforestation in May 2021 as they prepare for stricter European Union production standards for the chocolate ingredient.

The eradication of child labour and exploitation is one of the primary objectives of Ghana and Ivory Coast’s conflict with the West over cocoa. The prevalence of child labour on cocoa farms has long been a source of concern, as a 2000 BBC documentary highlighted. This exposure resulted in heightened scrutiny and legal action against major chocolate manufacturers.
Notably, in 2005, human rights attorney Terrence Collingsworth sued Nestlé USA Inc. and Cargill Inc. on behalf of children who were trafficked and enslaved on cocoa farms in Ghana and Ivory Coast. The purpose of these legal actions was to hold companies accountable for their supply chain practises and bring attention to the need for systemic change.

Ghana and Ivory Coast have also taken measures to ensure the sustainability of cocoa production over the long term. Both nations recognise the significance of sustainable practises for the environment and cocoa farmers’ livelihoods. In 2022, there were apprehensions that Ivory Coast might suspend its sustainability programmes; however, the joint efforts of both nations aimed to address this concern.

Ghana and Ivory Coast’s establishment of a body to implement an international tribunal’s ruling on their border dispute over offshore oilfields exemplifies their commitment to resolve conflicts and promote cooperation. Beyond cocoa, these efforts encompass broader economic cooperation between the two nations.

The battle between Ghana, Ivory Coast, and the West for cocoa is not without obstacles. Existing power dynamics and entrenched corporate interests are impediments to the achievement of comprehensive change. For instance, the estimated 3% share of total chocolate sales that cocoa farmers receive demonstrates the need for more equitable compensation.

Other challenges The Ghana-Ivory Coast cocoa trade faces overproduction and declining prices on the international market. As consumers and market-influencing actors, the West plays a significant role in Ghana-Ivory Coast cocoa trade.
Overproduction is one of the obstacles in the Ghana-Ivory Coast cocoa trade. Both nations are leading cocoa producers, and their combined output accounts for a substantial portion of the global cocoa supply. Overproduction can result in a mismatch between supply and demand, causing prices to fall.

Cocoa trade between Ghana and Ivory Coast is also hindered by falling prices on the global market. The price of cocoa is affected by a number of variables, including supply and demand dynamics, weather conditions, and economic factors. When prices fall, cocoa farmers’ income decreases, which can lead to financial hardship.

The West plays an essential role in the Ghana-Ivory Coast cocoa trade, especially as consumers of cocoa products. The demand for chocolate and cocoa-based products in Western nations is a significant market force. Consumer preferences, purchasing power, and sustainability concerns can impact cocoa trade pricing and practises.

In addition, the West has taken steps to address issues of sustainability in the Ghana-Ivory Coast cocoa trade. There have been efforts to promote fair pricing and raise cocoa farmers’ wages. To support the economic welfare of cocoa farmers, initiatives such as introducing a living income premium and implementing sustainability programmes have been implemented.

The Ghana-Ivory Coast cocoa war against the West represents a concerted effort to combat exploitation, eliminate child labour, and promote sustainability in the cocoa industry. The Abidjan Declaration laid the foundation for cooperation, and subsequent initiatives have sought to address persistent problems.

While challenges such as the need for improved compensation for farmers and systemic changes to supply chains persist, Ghana and Ivory Coast have demonstrated their commitment to creating a more equitable and sustainable cocoa industry through their collaborative efforts.

Through sustained collaboration, increased transparency, and international support, it is possible to reshape the cocoa industry and ensure the ethical and sustainable production of the sweet treat enjoyed by millions around the world.


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