The five-year Programme, which the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs funds, will tackle pressing challenges in the Cocoa, Palm Oil, and Gold Sectors in West Africa. To ensure that the interests, voices, and rights of farmers, workers, and citizens of West Africa (both male and female) are represented and heard in decision making for the sustainable use of natural resources, decent work, fair value distribution, and sustainable consumption.
The Executive Director of TrustAfrica, Dr. Ebrima Sall, noted that the organization was pleased to partner with Solidaridad West Africa to build the capacity of farmers, workers, and civil society to strategically position them in the civic space in Ghana and West Africa to contribute to decision-making to influence policy at the national level.
"What we at TrustAfrica find most interesting about the RECLAIM Sustainability! Program is its great transformative potential. In the next five years, we should see greater equity in the value chains that the Programme is working on, decent working conditions and living wages for all, economic rights, and gender equity".
TrustAfrica will support Solidaridad West Africa in implementing the programs directly in all the targeted countries for Africa while leveraging issues via continental networks.
The pressing challenges in these supply chains have contributed to diminished returns for smallholder producers and livelihoods in these sectors.
A spotlight on the cocoa sector showed that it is a well-known fact the share of the value of the retail products derived from cocoa, for instance, is small and continues to shrink. Farmers only receive 3 to 7% of the retail price of a chocolate bar, compared to 50% in the 1970s and 16% in the 1980s. The value of the final product that reaches cocoa farmers is small and shrinking. The price set for these primary commodities is one of the crucial factors to change to achieve a living income for most smallholder farmers, alongside transforming other policy and business environments factors. However, the prices the producers are forced to accept for their commodities in the current system are often an insufficient contribution to household income. Improving the prices producers receive for their commodities and ensuring an inclusive policy environment for price setting in cocoa-producing countries can be important pathways towards reaching a decent income and moving out of poverty.
Discussions at the launch also highlighted the challenges of children working on farms and often in hazardous conditions. This is due to the failures of law enforcement and the lack of provision of decent work alternatives that make sense for small-scale and family farm sustainability. Furthermore, existing socio-cultural norms and a lack of gender-sensitive policies and guidelines limit the participation of women and young people in community and district level decision-making and open them up to rights violations and violence.
To address these and other challenges and make the supply chains of cocoa, palm oil, and gold trade more sustainable, TrustAfrica, in partnership with Solidaridad West Africa, will work alongside local civil society organizations and producer associations as well as the private sector and public sector stakeholders to promote dialogue, innovative solutions and raise previously marginalized voices towards policy change and an enabling and sustainable environment for small producers.
At the global level, in alignment with TrustAfrica's strategic aims in the equitable development and economic justice programs in Africa, we will challenge and seek to dismantle structural inequalities and shift the power concentrated in a few corporations' hands and global trade partners. We will also address economic governance and accountability disparities and financial flows and support civil society.