Farmers pay the price for cheap chocolate

For the first time, a study investigated the actual income of farmers and value distribution in the cocoa supply chain. The results show little improvement in the sector. The Cocoa Barometer 2015 released this week indicates large corporations continue to dominate the cocoa supply chain and minimal progress has been made to increase the income of small-scale farmers.

“Despite all the efforts in cocoa at the moment, the core of the problem is not being addressed; the extreme poverty of farmers and their lack of voice in the debate,” said Antonie Fountain, co-author of the Cocoa Barometer 2015.

Seeking solutions

Certification standards have had a limited effect on productivity, as well as the farmers’ incomes. To improve their productivity, farmers would need to have access to services, fertilizers and planting material. Solidaridad organizes this type of support via commercially run service centres which have the added benefit of creating new employment opportunities.

Solidaridad’s programmes for sustainable cocoa approach the issues farmers are confronted with in a holistic manner. Not only does Solidaridad provide training for farmers to produce their cocoa in a more social and sustainable way, but it also provides assistance in producing other crops to improve farmers’ income and lower their dependence on cocoa.

An integrated approach

Solidaridad focuses on the social, environmental and economical aspects of the cocoa supply chain in the following ways:

  • Sector restructuring to attract the next generation of cocoa farmers – Solidaridad runs a special programme focused on rural youth in which the possibilities for intensified cocoa production are showcased and support is provided to young farmers in setting up their own business in cocoa production or the service industry.

  • Land reform – making it possible for farmers to obtain larger tracks of land so they can gain the required land titles and credit.

  • Transparent pricing – a large portion of the world market price should flow back to farmers.  To accomplish this, Solidaridad is strengthening the capacity of farmers organizations and helping them to achieve a collective voice. Obtaining a larger part of the price of the finished product will only be possible when cocoa has been de-commoditized.

  • Adding value – fine flavoured cocoa platforms are an example of adding value to the final product in cocoa producing countries, and are included as part of Solidaridad programmes in Central America.

The Cocoa Barometers are semi-annual overviews of the state of sustainability of the cocoa sector, and are published by a European consortium of civil society actors: FNV Mondiaal (NL), Hivos (NL), Solidaridad (NL) and the VOICE Network – Berne Declaration (CH), FNV (NL), Oxfam Novib (NL), Oxfam Wereldwinkels (BE), Stop the Traffik (UK), and the Südwind Institut (GE).

Read the official press release and download the full report here.