Cocoa farmer with a basket of cocoa pods on his shoulder

Cocoa farmers in Ghana awarded seed capital to diversify their incomes in climate smart ventures

  • New research identifies most effective climate smart enterprises to generate extra income for cocoa famers
  • Crop diversification and value addition models come out on top

Nine Ghanaian cocoa farming unions have been awarded grants to invest in new climate-smart small businesses on behalf of their members, as part of a scheme implemented by Fairtrade Foundation.

Each new enterprise aims to pilot new ways for cocoa farmers to earn extra money to supplement their incomes and, at the same time, build their capacity to protect their crops and families from the harmful effects of the climate crisis.

Emerging from an existing partnership between Mondelēz International and Fairtrade under the Climate Change and Organizational Strengthening Programme, the grant scheme is part of the Cadbury Farmer Resilience Fund supported by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and Mondelēz International’s cocoa sustainability program Cocoa Life, and implemented by Fairtrade. The programme works with 22,500 farmers across nine unions and is designed to build a more resilient cocoa supply chain.

Life is tough for cocoa farmers in Ghana, many of whom live below the poverty line. To make matters worse, the climate crisis is already wreaking havoc: farmers in the cocoa lands are increasingly facing unpredictable weather patterns and rising temperatures.  As producers battle less predictable seasons, climate-induced plant diseases continue to spread, resulting in lower incomes and food insecurity.

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a serious impact on Ghana’s cocoa sector. Border closures and restrictions have affected exports, leaving producers struggling to buy inputs and sell their produce. As a result, many families faced food insecurity due to price hikes. The Fairtrade-managed project aims to help them recover in a sustainable way.

Dr. Louisa Cox, Director of Impact at the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “It’s crucial for cocoa farmers to earn income from other activities if they are going to have resilient futures. These grants are designed to allow cocoa unions to invest on behalf of their members. We’re giving them the seed capital and market information to make their own decisions, which is the right thing to do and also crucial to the long term sustainability of cocoa.”

Yaa Peprah Amekudzi, Head of Cocoa Life Ghana at Mondelēz International said: “I’m so pleased that the grants have now been awarded to the nine unions and the projects are under way. We’ll be supporting the unions to implement their business plans, especially with strategic direction, budgeting, monitoring, evaluation and learning.”

In order to determine which cocoa unions were most in need of the grants, Fairtrade conducted a ‘markets and livelihoods analysis’, holding in-depth discussions with each of the nine unions to explore their ideas for new ventures. The unions carefully considered which alternative local crops could potentially be grown for income diversification, weighed up against each crop’s resilience to the effects of climate change.

Several cocoa unions proposed growing very similar food crops to sell at the local market: maize, cassava and vegetables came top of the list because they are suited to local agro-climatic conditions and help protect household food security. Cassava in particular has the added benefit of value addition through processing (into ‘gari’), which can supplement incomes. The crops most favoured by the poorest farmers were key subsistence crops: maize, plantain, cocoyam and cassava.

Other suggestions included using cocoa by-products such as husks to make soap, or bee keeping, which promotes natural pollination in cocoa and increases productivity. Any income earned from these activities could then be invested back into cocoa production.  Beyond cocoa production, this income will also support food security with benefits for cocoa farming households.

One of the most ambitious proposals was to set up three commercial tilapia farms, which would in turn create further business and employment opportunities for the wider community.

Osei Owusu, Union Treasurer at Amansie West says: “We have begun the distribution of the yam setts to 50 communities made up of 3,200 farmers in the Amansie West District. We will also help women learn alternative livelihoods to enable them have other sources of income during this difficult time of the COVID-19 pandemic. We pray COVID-19 will go soon and promise to make good use of the grant.”

Read the full learning brief.

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Notes to editors

Cocoa Life is Mondelēz International’s cocoa sustainability programme. Launched in 2012, Cocoa Life is investing $400 million USD over 10 years to empower at least 200,000 cocoa farmers and reach one million community members. This programme builds on the Cadbury Cocoa Partnership, which was founded in Ghana in 2008. By the end of 2020, Cocoa Life worked with more than 188,000 farmers in over 2,000 communities.

  • Since 2016, Fairtrade and Mondelēz International through Cocoa Life have been collaborating on a partnership to address the challenges faced by cocoa farmers in Ghana. Our shared objective is to achieve resilient livelihoods and economic growth for cocoa farming communities.
  • As part of this partnership, the Climate Change and Organisational Strengthening Programme (CCOSP) has been set up to support cocoa farmers to become more resilient to a changing climate.
  • In August 2020, CCOSP was awarded additional funding to set up the Cadbury Farmer Resilience Fund under the Vulnerable Supply Chains Facility (VSCF), a rapid COVID-19 response facility set up by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), and managed by Mott MacDonald Ltd. 
  • The ‘Cadbury Farmer Resilience Fund’ is a joint Fairtrade Mondelēz initiative with funding from FCDO and Mondelēz International. It is designed to protect cocoa farmer livelihoods during the COVID-19 pandemic. Currrently two projects are implemented by Fairtrade Foundation
  • It is important to recognise that this programme builds on years of work that Fairtrade certification, Mondelēz International through Cocoa Life and formally Cadbury have carried out with generations of cocoa farmers, working alongside the Government of Ghana. The programme continues to put value in collaboration and joint working on sustainability issues, ensuring that farmer voice is at the centre of all design activities.
  • For more information on the Fairtrade Mondelēz Partnership, see the latest Partnership Statement.