Cocoa farmers in Liberia are challenging new policies introduced by the country’s Commodity Regulatory body slamming it for implementing unfair regulations that would hamper small actors in the sector.
Liberia Agriculture Commodity Regulation Authority (LACRA) is to set the prices for cocoa purchase. The regulatory body will limit the buying and export of cocoa to only licensed merchants.
The farmers’ cooperative are not happy that LACRA plan to impose a price of US$50 per ton on the export of cocoa. They believe that the exporters are buying the cocoa beans for fair prices.
The farmers called for more consultation and cooperation between farmers’ cooperatives and LACRA to ensure a fair pricing structure.
The consultative forum which was held under the auspices of the U.K Embassy brought together major stakeholders in the cocoa sector.
The forum comes at a time when the Government of Liberia has come under criticism for opting to monopolize export of Liberia’s cocoa.
The cocoa sector, according to reports, has over 30,000 smallholder cocoa farmers and if monopolized, it will destroy the investments made in the sector over the last decade by smallholders, cooperatives, the Government of Liberia and the international donor communities.
The Liberian government has granted export rights to Aya Group which is a part of Sidani Enterprises (Lebanese) to export cocoa. In so doing, Aya Group would control the foreign exchange earned from the export of cocoa.