Farming Families & Forests Victim of Failing Cocoa Market

The 2018 Cocoa Barometer, released today, reveals that efforts to address poverty, deforestation, and child labour have fallen short. It reveals that for cocoa growing communities, particularly in West Africa, these issues have been made worse by a rapid fall in prices.

While consumers have received a two cent discount on a bar of chocolate, farmers have been pushed to desperation. Since September 2016, the price of cocoa per tonne has fallen from an average of $3000 to $2000. In addition, local forests in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana have been transformed into cocoa plantations to increase production.

The 2018 Cocoa Barometer’s alarming report calls for a new, concerted effort by all parties to save the future of cocoa.

Isaac Gyamfi, Director of Solidaridad in West Africa notes that while solutions have been brought to the cocoa sector by industry, governments and civil society organizations, their scale is nowhere near the size of the problem. He said:

“Cocoa and chocolate companies save billions purchasing cocoa, while at the same time, they spend millions on sustainability programmes. Whatsmore, governments of both producing and consuming countries do not have policies in place to correct this market failure.”

The Market Needs Correction

“A living income for farmers is the most important indicator for a sustainable cocoa sector,” says Heske Verburg, Director of Solidaridad in Europe. She adds:

“Governments should change market conditions. Cocoa and chocolate companies need to find ways to redistribute value along the production chain. Together they can guarantee a living income for farmers.”

Cocoa Barometer 2018 Raises Alarm

The Cocoa Barometer is published by a large group of civil society organizations including Solidaridad. It highlights that despite all the programmes to prevent child labour, the number of children working in the sector has likely risen over the last two years.

Protected forests have been a refuge for civilians in Côte d’Ivoire during the civil war. The report reflects on the fact that in the Western Region of Ghana, communities in protected forests have grown in size. Their increasing size also leads to expansion of cocoa farms into the forest.

Today, one million people now live and grow cocoa in nature reserves and protected areas. The resulting deforestation further aggravates the impact of climate change and contributes to the emission of greenhouse gases.

Modern Farming Part of The Solution

Solidaridad invests in modern cocoa farming and supporting structures for cocoa production and trade in programmes such as the Cocoa Rehabilitation and Intensification Programme and MASO, the Next Generation Cocoa Youth Programme.

“Modern and sustainable agricultural practices are part of the solution, but clearly do not solve the problems in the market” says Isaac Gyamfi.

“Farmers must diversify their production, making them less dependant on the ever changing market conditions of a single commodity. Government and industry investments in diversification programmes, creation of economic incentives, education programmes and enforced policies and laws can keep farmers out of the forests.”

Learn more about Solidaridad's cocoa programme here.