Côte d’Ivoire – Ghana: Why cocoa farmers remain brown gold’s poor relation

In depth
This article is part of the dossier: Cocoa War: Farmers vs multinationals

By Estelle Maussion, Marie Toulemonde

Posted on Tuesday, 17 January 2023 12:24

Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana are trying to use their position as major players in the world cocoa market to obtain better remuneration for their farmers. It’s a legitimate, but uphill battle. Here's a visual overview of the situation.

This is part 5 of a 5-part series

Less than a dollar a day: this is the amount a cocoa farmer in Côte d’Ivoire earns on average. It sums up the battle being waged by Abidjan and Accra, united in the “cocoa OPEC” since 2018, to improve their farmers’ income. While the two West African countries provide nearly 60% of the world’s supply of beans, and the chocolate industry generates some $130bn in sales each year, the vast majority of cocoa farmers struggle to make a living from their activity.

The problem is both old and complex: small-scale producers in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana are part of a globalised value chain comprising a large number of players – from cooperatives to chocolate manufacturers, exporters, grinders and traders.

In this context, it is the last links in the chain – producers and sellers of chocolate bars and other sweet treats – that take the biggest share of the pie, while the first link – the cocoa farmers – have to make do with the crumbs.

Industry reluctance

It is this state of affairs that Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana are trying to shake up, having imposed a premium of $400 per tonne on the purchase of beans. This is a way to influence the price of brown gold set by the London and Chicago futures markets.

However, the implementation of this measure has faced reluctance from the chocolate industry, which is already committed to sustainability programmes and does not wish to increase the sale price of its products, especially as it can source its supplies from other countries, notably in Latin America.

How can Abidjan and Accra, today’s leaders in world bean production, come out on top of this situation? What is the reality for cocoa farmers? How can the industry’s efforts be evaluated? Here is a closer look in infographics.

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