By Nicholas Osei-Wusu
The Ghana Agricultural and Rural Development Journalists Association, GARDJA has strongly criticized the European Union, (EU) for the imposition of a new law to punish commodity trading companies that import some specific agricultural and agro-forestry products without any Due Diligence Statement proving their respective supply chains are not contributing to either child labour or deforestation.
The EU, last year promulgated a law to punish commodities trading entities that import cocoa, coffee, rubber, and timber among other commodities whose sources could be traced to deforestation and practices that encourage child labour from developing countries.
Commodities trading companies that breach the law will suffer from hefty fines imposition.
However, GRDJA has described the processes leading to the new EU law, which did not seek the inputs of the exporting countries, as reminiscent of the situation during the colonial era when decisions and laws were imposed in a ‘master-servant relationship’ situation.
A statement signed and issued in Kumasi by its President, Richmond Frimpong, admitted that, even though the new EU trade restrictions are not specific to Ghana, prevailing pertinent national issues of destruction of forest reserves for cocoa production and illegal gold mining within forested areas in parts of the country as well as the use of children to undertaken limited activities in cocoa farms makes the new regulation the country could suffer serious economic consequences.
According to GARDJA, data it has obtained from official sources show that, in the 2018-2019 year alone, Ghana exported 44 percent of her total cocoa beans and timber and timber products worth eight-three million euros to the European Union.
Therefore, the restriction, which the Association describes as ‘a de facto ban’, could seriously affect the country’s economy.
The statement noted that, as one of the highest beneficiaries of agricultural and forestry exports from developing countries, the European Union ought to have rather impressed on the receiving processing companies within their zone to offer appreciable prices for the raw commodities to encourage the source countries to ensure strict compliance with acceptable processes instead.
The statement charged the European Union to get actors within the cocoa value chain in particular to pay fair farm gate prices to the farmers to empower them to hire the required labour and technology to improve their production.
It said, as an association working to improve the quality and quantity of agricultural-focused reporting in Ghana’s media space, it blames partly some local journalists and media houses for aiding the foreign media to misreport to misinform the global community about happenings within the country.
The Statement has urged also Ghana to prioritize adding value to her resources especially cocoa and timber before exporting to derive better returns on the exports.