Fighting for Fair Cocoa Prices in Ghana.

Cocoa farmer Paul Kodjoe says scales that aren’t balanced properly leave him forced to sell more product for the same price. He’s asking the Ghana Cocoa Board to enforce regulations requiring every scale to be balanced fairly. Photo: Carolyn Thompson
Cocoa farmer Paul Kodjoe told JHR-trained journalist Coffie Emanuel that buyers’ scales that aren’t balanced properly leaving him forced to sell more product for the same price. He’s asking the Ghana Cocoa Board to enforce regulations requiring every scale to be balanced fairly. Photo: Carolyn Thompson

If you are a farmer in Ghana, you probably grow cocoa. The country is the second largest cocoa producer in the world. For many farmers, their livelihoods depend on the chocolate-producing beans. But when farmers sold their carefully grown cocoa beans to market, they were not always treated fairly. Some cocoa buyers cheated the farmers, explained Paul Kodjoe, Head of the Jomoro District Cocoa Board Association.

 

Mr. Kodjoe owns a farm in Ghana’s Western Region close to the Ivory Coast border. He says farmers were being cheated between ten to 15 kilograms per bag because some buyers weighed the beans with crooked scales. Farmers were losing nearly all of their profits. With help from JHR Trainer John Van Dusen, Coffie Emanuel, a reporter at Radio Gold, picked up Mr. Kudjoe’s story. Emanuel discovered this wasn’t the first time the issue of buyers cheating farmers had been brought to the Ghana Cocoa Board’s attention.

 

Two years ago the Cocoa Board had promised to give farmers weighing stones so they could verify the weight of their cocoa at the market. But many farmers were not using the stones, and some, like Mr. Kudjoe hadn’t even received their stone. Emanuel decided to get this story on the air. He worked hard to find out more about the rules of buying cocoa in Ghana. Cocoa beans must be sold dry, in 64 kg bags. Each bag is priced at about $100. In an interview, Mr. Kudjoe called on the board make sure all cocoa buyers’ scales are balanced.

 

During a live interview on Radio Gold’s evening newscast, Emanuel confronted the Cocoa Board’s public relations officer with Mr. Kudjoe’s story. The officer said the board would meet with Mr. Kudjoe and other farmers to discuss the weighing scale issue. He said it was a crime if buyers were adding weight to the regulated amount and promised to figure out what was going on.

 

As a result of Emanuel’s investigation and interviews, Mr. Kudjoe met with the Ghana Cocoa Board and discussed ways to stop cocoa buyers ripping farmers off. The board promised to replace old scales with new ones standardized to the regulated 64 kilogram weight. The board also encouraged farmers to contact the police if buyers cheat them. Because Emanuel raised the cocoa farmers’ concerns on national radio, farmers can now earn a fair profit for their cocoa beans.

 

JHR’s work in Ghana is made possible by generous support from: Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development Canada

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