- On May 29, 2020
The interview has been edited for brevity
Photo: Pomasi Ismaila
Photo Credit: SEND GHANA
Pomasi Ismaila (39) has been a member of the Cocoa Abrabopa Association (CAA) since 2007 and has been growing cocoa on his land for 18 years. As a board member of the organization, he represents the interests of 8,000 small farmers who are members of the cooperative in the Ashanti region. Pomasi Ismail wanted to learn about advocacy to pursue the rights of cocoa farmers. He participated in SEND GHANA’s advocacy activities, including lobbying and advocacy training and had also participated in other technical training for improved production.
In October 2019, he participated as a speaker at an international conference on the future of cocoa. Interviewed by Evelyn Bahn, a team member at INKOTA netzwerk, Pomasi Ismail explains how SEND’s engagement with him has sharpened his advocacy skills which he demonstrated in the 2019 World Cocoa Foundation Conference in Berlin.
300 multi-stakeholder representatives are discussing what needs to change for sustainable cocoa farming. What did you learn?
The majority of cocoa families don’t have a living income. To end poverty in cocoa-growing regions, higher incomes are necessary. But who is responsible for higher incomes? The governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana are taking action now. It is good that they align to push for more stability of world market prices and have introduced a Living Income Differential (LID).
The LID of 400.00 US dollars per ton must be paid by the international cocoa and chocolate industry. Only a few days before the conference, it was unclear whether the companies were willing to do so. Our governments announced to stop all sustainability projects if the additional differential is not paid. I am glad that the pressure showed an impact. If we focus only on sustainability projects and certification, there will not be the necessary changes. A higher price must also be paid.
Will the Living Income Differential be paid to the farmers?
We will monitor this closely. Cocoa farmers’ organizations and civil society must ensure that the promises are actually implemented. It is good that SEND GHANA supports us in this.
Did you participate in one of SEND GHANA’s training? What has changed for you?
If we had a problem as a cooperative in the past, we spontaneously called any authority and complained. At SEND, I learned to be strategic and to think first about what is the main problem, who can change something about our problem, and who are our allies. We prepare ourselves better, engage with important institutions and advocate for the interests of the cocoa farmers. I had confidence in myself to deliver. For my speech at the conference, I was very well prepared through the training of SEND GHANA. I knew that there were many important people and that I had to communicate my concerns convincingly and concisely. I have been practicing learnings from the advocacy training and that was put to play in the just-ended conference in Berlin.
Do you think that international conferences will change the situation of farmers?
The discussions at the conference suggest so. Much has been said about the need for higher prices and farmers to further improve their farming practices. In fact, all participants know what needs to change. Now it is time to walk the talk.
The interview has been edited for brevity.