Often a vocal and outspoken critic on the state of the cocoa industry, Fountain said he welcomed the living income differential (LID) initiative set up by the governments of Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire to improve the financial situation for cocoa farmers.
“It’s a really good step and it's also something that we've been calling on for years for these governments to do but we have also always said that combined with price interventions, you need to see other interventions as well because otherwise you're going to get a whole lot of unintended negative consequences,” he said.
Fountain said it's the job of The Voice Network to follow what's happening in the cocoa sector, critically as well as constructively, and the organization publishes its Biennial Cocoa Barometer, a comprehensive sustainability overview of the cocoa sector that is read in the multinationals’ boardrooms.
He also welcomed the statement from the EU at a recent meeting organized by the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) backing plans by Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire to levy a LID on sales. But said the EU can still do more as major chocolate consumer.
When it comes to cocoa suppliers and manufacturers, rather than self-certification schemes, Fountain argues that standards for multinationals should be part of a broader legislative playing field. “The reason we haven't solved the issues of deforestation, child labor and poverty in the cocoa sector is quite simple because we haven't had to … We don't think that voluntary ways forward for multinationals are going to solve the world's problems because if they were to do so they would already have done so.”
- Antonie Fountain will be the moderator at one of the first breakout sessions, Strengthening Farmers’ Voice, at the WCF Partnership Meeting on Wednesday 23 October at 11.15am.
- Listen to our podcast to hear the interview in full.