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Review Sanctions On Cash Crop Imports From Developing Countries—-GARDJA Boss Appeals.3 min read

Review Sanctions On Cash Crop Imports From Developing Countries—-GARDJA Boss Appeals.<span class="wtr-time-wrap after-title"><span class="wtr-time-number">3</span> min read</span>


Mr Richmond Frimpong, President of Ghana Agricultural and Rural Development Journalists Association has called on the European Union to take another look at a law that deals ruthlessly against cash crop commodities brought in from developing countries.

The President in a release sent to GO calls for a comprehensive assessment of issues case by case so that the EU does not deny developing countries access to having revenue from the cash crops they have produced using due diligence methods.

We publish the appeal by the GARDJA president in full beneath.

Last year, the European Union (EU) approved a new law that punishes commodity trading companies that import cocoa, coffee, rubber, timber, and other such commodities linked to deforestation and practices like child labour from the developing world.

The law requires companies to produce a due diligence statement showing their supply chains are not contributing to the destruction of forests before they sell goods into the EU – or they could face hefty fines. Some players have defined the move as a ‘de facto’ ban on the export of Ghana’s cocoa to the EU because our cocoa is mainly grown in forests and children help their parents on farms.

This would not be the first time that Ghana has had to bear the consequences of EU import regulations and sanctions. Eight years ago, the EU banned the importation of vegetables from Ghana due to the heavy infestation of pests. As a result, the country lost about US$30 million in revenue between 2014 and 2017 for failing to meet EU vegetable export quality standards.

At the present juncture, a new EU legislation emerges as Ghana grapples with an alarming depletion of its forests due to factors such as cocoa farming, illegal logging, and mining activities. According to the Global Forest Watch, the period from 2001 to 2021 witnessed a substantial loss of 1.41 million hectares of tree cover in Ghana, marking a 20% decline since 2000. In 2021 alone, the country experienced the loss of 101,000 hectares of natural forest.

Ghana heavily relies on exporting the majority of its cocoa, coffee, and timber to the European Union. COCOBOD data from the 2018/2019 crop year indicates that 44% of the total cocoa bean output was directed to the EU. Furthermore, in April 2021, the Forestry Commission of Ghana reported that timber exports to the EU reached €8.35 million, accounting for 16.98% and solidifying its position as the second-largest export destination for the country’s timber and other wood products. Clearly, Europe serves as a significant market for Ghana’s key commodities, and any failure to comply with the stipulations of the new bill could result in both social and economic consequences for the local cocoa, coffee, and timber industry.

As an association working to improve the quality and quantity of agricultural-focused reporting in Ghana’s media space, we recently had the unique opportunity of engaging various stakeholders in the sector at a five-day training on human rights due diligence and forced and child labour, that discussed these issues extensively. Members resolved that we issue a statement and express our concerns about how the European Union is treating Ghana and other developing countries.

Admittedly, the EU regulation does not specifically target Ghana’s cocoa sector but all cash crops producing countries, as well as exporters, processors, and manufacturers. But this law puts producing countries in a more difficult situation than other actors in the value chain because our very livelihood as a people depends on these.

To what extent did the European Union weigh the likely economic consequences that may arise from this directive before rolling it out? Did they involve producing countries in the deliberations that led to the promulgation of this law?

Story By Michael Ofosu-Afriyie, Kumasi.