Currently almost no cocoa farmers in the main cocoa production countries in West Africa are earning a living income. Without a living income for cocoa farmers, cocoa will never be sustainable. If a farmer must choose between feeding his family, and not cutting down his old growth trees, it isn’t a choice. Other challenges facing the sector – such as deforestation and child labour – will be impossible to tackle if farmers still live in poverty.
It should be abundantly clear that living income is the starting point of a conversation on farmer income, not a finish line. Those people reading this paper would not be satisfied with earning just a living income. Why should a cocoa farmer? Every farmer should be able to earn at least a living income, but preferably a lot more.
Several initiatives in the past year have started to communicate about desired cocoa price levels for farmers in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. The situation is not transparent, as each approach has a different methodology to calculate a living income and a different way to transfer additional money.
We believe, however, that these living income price calculations so far have erred significantly on the low side. In a paper released today by the Cocoa Barometer Consortium, we explain why we think current living income reference prices are too low, and why farm gate prices for farmers should be higher still.
Read the full paper here.