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Abidjan, Accra Ease Cocoa Clash

FILE: Cocoa beans are pictured next to a warehouse at the village of Atroni, near Sunyani, Ghana. Taken April 11, 2019

Ivory Coast and Ghana, the world's two biggest cocoa producers, said Monday there had been progress towards resolving a tug-of-war with chocolate giants on prices.

In a joint statement, cocoa industry bodies said the talks had yielded agreement to set up a working group to explore the problems, and report back early next year.

The producer countries also praised "the efforts made by certain companies" to find a solution for sustainable farming, the statement said.

The quarrel focuses on the Living Income Differential (LID) -- a policy that Ivory Coast and Ghana introduced in 2019 to fight poverty among cocoa farmers in the global $130-billion chocolate market.

Under it, Ivory Coast and Ghana vowed to charge a premium of $400 per ton on all sales of cocoa beans, starting with the 2020/21 harvest.

The two countries initially had set down a deadline of Sunday for manufacturers to pay higher prices to their growers.

Monday's joint statement was signed by the Ivorian Coffee-Cocoa Council (CCC), the Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod) and the Ivory Coast-Ghana Cocoa Initiative (CIGCI).

The communique said producers had been In talks with chocolate manufacturers and other players in the industry.

The producers "noted the efforts made by certain companies and their desire to jointly find solutions for sustainable cocoa production that places farmers at the heart of this strategy," the statement said.

"Under the auspices of the CIGCI, a working group of experts composed of representatives of member countries and cocoa sector stakeholders has been set up to study solutions to better resolve certain problems and to guarantee a sustainable price mechanism in the long term," it added.

The panel is expected to report back in the first quarter 2023.

The two countries together account for 60 percent of the world's cocoa but their farmers earn less than six percent of the industry's global revenue.