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Spotlight on Responsible Cocoa Production in Ghana

This partnership project demonstrates how stakeholders across the value chain can come together to address deep-seated ethical problems and achieve socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable development in the Ghanaian cocoa industry.

Factual Outline

Partnership for Change: Toms, coop, and ibis have joined forces through a business-driven CSR partnership to create sustainable development in the cocoa industry.

Purpose: The project has two goals: 1) help Ghanaian cocoa farmers harvest more cocoa and increase their income, 2) ensure greater educational opportunities and avoid child labour.

Method: Training farmers, educating teachers and tackling the entrenched issue of child labour in cocoa production.

Target Group: 4,800 cocoa farmers and their families in 96 villages.

Location: The project is based in the districts of Sefwi-wiawso and Bibiani in west Ghana.

Time Frame: The project will last four years, 2012 - 2016.

Importance: It is estimated that 41,1% of the 2.7 million child workers in Ghana live in cocoa-growing areas.

Cocoa, the Ghanaian Gold

Nearly 70% of the world’s cocoa is grown in West Africa. A significant amount of it originates in Ghana, a country that accounts for 15% of the world’s total cocoa-bean production and a leader on the world market. In Ghana cocoa beans are grown and harvested by smallholders on farms that cover between 3 and 9 hectares. The average cocoa farmer is responsible for an extended family, which explains why it is common to see up to nine members of one family working, half of which are children. Throughout Ghana, the family functions as the backbone of every community. Families live and work together and provide social support to each other. Many Ghanaian cocoa farmers struggle with exhausted soil and plant disease, and they lack the knowledge to develop their cocoa farms. Often, conditions in schools and educational institutions are far from perfect, owing to a lack of educated teachers, as well as one of the central issues in Ghana: the estimated 2.7 million child workers of which 41.1% live in cocoa-growing areas. Experience shows that as soon as the farmers make a profit, they send their children to school. Clearly, increased crop yields and profits are fundamental to tackling child-labour issues. Toms has set out to overcome this challenge through a Danida Business Partnership in collaboration with Coop Denmark and Ibis.

Initiative: Responsible Cocoa Production

The strategic partnership was initiated in 2012 and aims to improve the living conditions of 4,800 farmers and their families across 96 farmer societies in the districts of Sefwi-Wiawso and Bibiani in West Ghana. Significantly, Toms buys all of its cocoa from these two districts, where Toms has achieved traceability of its cocoa.

Improving Farmer Productivity

The partnership endeavoured to sustainably increase the productivity of small farmers. To this end, farmers were trained in soil management, tree pruning, fertilisation, and shade management, which allow them to farm their land more effectively. At the same time, they have gained access to fresh, new cocoa trees, which produce more and higher quality cocoa pods. The better the cocoa harvest, the more each farmer profits.

Ensuring Quality Education

The Ghanaian government pays the tuition of all schoolchildren. However, not all children receive a proper education. This problem has two roots: a lack of well-educated teachers and a deep-seated tradition that includes children in cocoa production. For many cocoa farmers, an education in cocoa farming is a far better alternative for their children than a poor academic education that leads to an uncertain future. To tackle child labour issues in cocoa production, Toms looked more closely at the root causes of child labour: low crop yields, the cocoa farmers’ perspective on children’s rights, and the lack of qualified teachers. In collaboration with Ibis and Coop, Toms involved farmers, parents, and the local community to send as many children as possible to school instead of into the fields. Therefore, part of the solution also includes educating and training 180 local schoolteachers to ensure better, inspiring, and more up-to-date teaching methods.

Results And Lessons

The partnership project began in 2012, with 13,859 children between the ages of 7 and 17 across 30 communities. Of these, 9.79% were engaged in various forms of child labour. As a direct result of the project, child labour fell to 1.53% of 14,801 children in 2015. This corresponds to an 80% reduction in child labour and reveals that the partnership’s model to tackle child labour has been successful. The results will be assessed when the partnership project ends in 2016.