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Report: Strengthen governance systems to build solid foundation

Fairtrade Foundation
Fairtrade Foundation

A report on research conducted to ascertain key insights into cocoa sector co-operatives, has recommended the prioritization and strengthening of governance systems to help build solid foundations for farmer groups in the cocoa sector.

The research was commissioned by Fairtrade Foundation, a global movement that tackles injustices of conventional trade by helping small-scale farmers, with support from Open Society Foundation.

It aimed at helping to gain deeper insight and understanding of how to unlock the value of co-operatives for cocoa farmers in Ghana, one of the world’s biggest exporters of the crop.

The report which was made available to the Ghana News Agency in Kumasi said strengthening governance was critical in investment decisions by the co-operatives.

The research was carried out through focus group discussions with cocoa farmers in Fairtrade’s West Africa Producer Network, as well as interviews with a range of relevant stakeholders in the sector, including Fairtrade cocoa co-operatives.

The report also recommended the creation of better value chain guidelines for more coordinated and diversify external support and the facilitation of better co-operative networks and platforms that included space for co-operatives to address internal challenges confidently as they arose.

Additionally, the report recommended some proposals on how better to identify obstacles to improve farmers’ experiences within co-operatives, and how to support co-operatives in their journey to scale up impact for members, sharecroppers and farm owners’ families.

Mr Brian Doe, Programmes Development Manager at the Fairtrade Foundation told the GNA that “our new report, supported by Open Society Foundations, presents a much-needed opportunity to interrogate factors that can support or hinder the success of cocoa co-operatives in Ghana in creating value for farmers.

According to the Fairtrade report, a range of internal and external forces and factors could affect co-operative’s ability to support farmers.

The internal factors include the similarity and integration of members within the co-operative, the formation and organization of the leadership class in a collective organisation, how operating procedures are designed to promote equitable distribution of benefits across farmers and cocoa producing communities.

Among the external factors are the complex relations between farm owners and farm workers, linked to larger social traditions in Ghana, and the pressure put on co-operatives to negotiate partnerships with commercial actors that may encourage centralising power rather than allowing for democratic, decentralised decision-making in an organisation.

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