Responsible and Sustainable Sourcing of Cocoa Beans in Ghana: Truth or Fiction

By 2025, most commodity supply organisations and confectioneries intend completing the phased activity of responsibly and sustainably sourcing their raw commodities. Their intent is securing high commodity producer profitability, quality on-farm business, and concurrently addressing issues like gender inequality and poor social conditions.

These commitments are ambitious and very exciting. It is interesting to observe how different institutions signed up to the CocoaAction and Cocoa and Forests Initiative ( CFI), key global commitments on responsible commodity sourcing, are implementing varied initiatives to meet their targets. 

Most commodity producers, majority being smallholder farmers, are expected to go through series of rigorous assessment processes: including periodic agronomic training, digital farm traceability, and adherence to fair labour practices prior to meeting sourcing requirements. Additionally, farmers are expected to adhere to appropriate waste disposal and environmental practices.

It is interesting if all the above best practices are being monitored and implemented in line with the commitments made. African smallholder producers could sign up to such initiatives and even join cooperatives to meet all these sourcing requirements. However, there is the need for robust data collection approaches to be adopted in building traceability solutions, a key undertaking for CocoaAction and CFI.

Digitally tracing sourced commodities such as cocoa, oil palm, et al, to rural farms require deploying trusted digital solutions from African tech companies such as SyeComp, with a decade experience building traceability and Remote Sensing digital solutions. 

From field assessments undertaken by journalists at Agriculture in Africa Media, it was observed that cocoa sourcing in most rural cocoa farming communities in Ghana have high levels of untraceable cocoa beans, including smuggled and stolen beans mixed with the traced ones. This practice of mixing happens at the level of the Purchasing Clerks ( contracted persons who buy the cocoa beans on behalf of the Licensed Buying Companies). There is therefore the need for enhanced monitoring of rural farm and off-farm activities to nip this practice and help meet our sustainability targets.