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Ghana and Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producers, boycotted an international meeting on cocoa sustainability in Belgium this week to protest measures they say negatively impact farmers, Africanews reported Thursday.

The World Cocoa Foundation, a group representing 80 percent of the global market, met in Brussels to discuss steps to improve farmers’ pay, combat child labor and put an end to deforestation linked to the cultivation of the crop.

Officials of the two West African countries, however, accused multinational chocolate companies and traders of blocking measures to improve the income of cocoa farmers. Their complaints were aimed at the Living Income Differential, which set a standard rate of $400 per ton of cocoa and charged on top of world prices.

The differential was introduced in 2019 to ensure a minimum price and improve the income of cocoa farmers – many of whom live in poverty.

However, commodity traders set prices for the two countries at $260 per ton. In July, the two countries decided they wouldn’t sell at that price.

Civil rights groups in both nations have slammed the policies, saying farmers have been given a raw deal when it comes to pricing.

Ghana and Ivory Coast account for about two-thirds of global cocoa production.

Even so, farmers in those countries receive less than six percent of the revenues of the chocolate industry which is worth more than $100 billion each year.

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