Twelve of the world's leading cocoa and chocolate companies have promised to help Ghana address the issue of illegal mining known as galamsey
This was announced Friday at a meeting jointly held by the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), IDH-the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), and The Prince's International Sustainability Unit (ISU) in London.
The companies pledged their commitment to developing an actionable plan to end galamsey which will include a greater investment in more sustainable forms of landscape management.
According to the companies, they will partner local groups to protect and restore forests in the cocoa landscape as well as invest in programmes to improve cocoa productivity for smallholder farmers.
Lands Minister, Peter Amewu was appreciative to the companies and The Prince of Wales for their decision to help the country fight the menace of galamsey.
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"On our part, we are poised to enhance the environmental governance regime in the cocoa sector and implement actions that will enable cocoa producers to adopt cocoa agroforestry systems and practices that are climate smart".
The Prince of Wales attributed deforestation to be the cause of low cocoa yields in Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire:
"Tropical rainforests play an absolutely crucial role in climate change mitigation and adaptation, in ensuring sustainable livelihoods for hundreds of millions of people and in conserving biodiversity."
According to him, the most powerful direct reason for action is that deforestation undermines the very resilience of the cocoa sector itself.
"I am heartened that companies are undertaking to work up, in full collaboration with host governments and civil society, a Joint Framework of Action to make good on the commitments announced today, in time for COP 23 in November."
Executive Director of IDH, Joost Oorthuizen expressed gladness to lead the initiative in the two countries which will help to improve their cocoa yields.
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"In recent history, the cocoa sector has proven to not be afraid to address difficult issues like child labor, malnutrition, and poverty reduction, all in a non-competitive manner. This meeting provides a great starting point to expedite action on the deforestation issue in concert with other relevant stakeholders."
On his part, WCF Chairman, Barry Parkin, stated that the decision by the 12 companies to help the two countries marks a "crucial step forward" in the 21st Century.
"We look forward to more companies joining the effort and are grateful for the leadership provided by The Prince of Wales in convening today's landmark event."
The programme which is the first of its kind covering the global cocoa supply chain was attended by HRH The Prince of Wales, Lands and Natural Resources Minister, John Peter Amewu, senior executives from the companies and senior government officials from Cote d'Ivoire.
It also brought together a cross-section of the world's largest chocolate makers and cocoa buyers, producers and traders including Barry Callebaut; Blommer Chocolate Company; Cargill; CEMOI; ECOM; Ferrero; The Hershey Company; Mars, Incorporated; Mondelez International; Nestlé; Olam and Touton.
There were ministers and senior government representatives of the two-leading cocoa producing countries – Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana – as well as France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom.