In June 2010, the United Nations Cocoa Conference successfully concluded negotiations for the International Cocoa Agreement, following consensus reached between exporting and importing countries. The agreement was for the first time in the history of international cocoa agreements, to enter into force for a period of 10 years. This, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, was “a sign of clear recognition by all parties of the long-term value of the agreement, and of their commitment to it.”
The agreement took effect in 2012, succeeding the previous agreement, which went into force in 2003. That agreement, which was negotiated in 2001, lasted five initial years and was continued through two, two-year extensions. The new pact will last 10 initial years and may be extended for two additional four-year periods.
Earlier this week, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Instrument of Nigeria’s Accession to the 2010 International Cocoa Agreement.
Garba Shehu, the president’s spokesperson had in a statement, said, this was sequel to approval of the Federal Executive Council for Nigeria to accede to the Agreement.
Nigeria is coming late to the party, but then, it is better late than never. The 2010 agreement is meant to run through 10 years, taking effect from 2012, and Nigeria, which prides itself with a history of coca production only just acceded to this agreement, with at most, 4 years left to terminate.
The objectives of the International Cocoa Agreement signed by Nigeria are:
(a) To promote international cooperation in the world cocoa economy;
(b) To provide an appropriate framework for discussion on all cocoa matters among governments, and with the private sector;
(c) To contribute to the strengthening of the national cocoa economies of Member countries, through the preparation, development and evaluation of appropriate projects to be submitted to the relevant institutions for financing and implementation and seeking finance for projects that benefit Members and the world cocoa economy;
(d) To strive towards obtaining fair prices leading to equitable economic returns to both producers and consumers in the cocoa value chain, and to contribute to a balanced development of the world cocoa economy in the interest of all Members;
(e) To promote a sustainable cocoa economy in economic, social and environmental terms;
(f) To encourage research and the implementation of its findings through the promotion of training and information programmes leading to the transfer to Members of technologies suitable for cocoa;
(g) To promote transparency in the world cocoa economy, and in particular in the cocoa trade, through the collection, analysis and dissemination of relevant statistics and the undertaking of appropriate studies, as well as to promote the elimination of trade barriers;
(h) To promote and to encourage consumption of chocolate and cocoa-based products in order to increase demand for cocoa, inter alia through the promotion of the positive attributes of cocoa, including health benefits, in close cooperation with the private sector;
(i) To encourage Members to promote cocoa quality and to develop appropriate food safety procedures in the cocoa sector;
(j) To encourage Members to develop and implement strategies to enhance the capacity of local communities and small-scale farmers to benefit from cocoa production and thereby contribute to poverty alleviation;
(k) To facilitate the availability of information on financial tools and services that can assist cocoa producers, including access to credit and approaches to managing risk.
Some of the major innovations and changes to the International Cocoa Agreement 2010 as compared to the previous one include:
• Elaboration of clearly defined definitions and objectives for a sustainable cocoa economy;
• Enhancement of market transparency through the collecting, processing, and distribution of data from both private and public sources, and through increased cooperation between the ICCO and the private sector;
• Reinforcement of a mandate for the development of projects relating to the cocoa economy, recognizing their role in strengthening national cocoa economies and allowing them to better respond to evolving demand;
• Recognition of the need to strive towards fair cocoa prices leading to equitable returns for both producers and consumers;
• Promotion of the quality of cocoa and recognition of the need to develop appropriate food-safety procedures in the sector;
• Clearly defined procedures for the establishment of fine or “flavour” cocoa; and
• Codification of ICCO cooperation with non-governmental organizations.
The International Cocoa Agreement 2010 is expected to result in a major strengthening of cooperation between exporting and importing member countries and in an improvement of their cocoa economies through active and better focused project development and strategies for capacity-building.
The new agreement will build on the success of the 2001 agreement, by implementing measures leading to an increase in the income of cocoa farmers and by supporting cocoa producers in improving the functioning of their cocoa economies. The new agreement also will deliver cocoa of better quality, take effective account of food-safety issues and help establish social, economic, and environmental sustainability, so that farmers are rewarded for producing cocoa that meets ethical and environmental considerations.