The Impacts of Cocoa Sustainability Initiatives in West Africa
1.1. Wicked Problems Converge on Cocoa Farms
1.2. The Growth of Voluntary Sustainability Standards and Services to Farmers
- Voluntary sustainability standards (VSS) have a programmatic nature, and consist of different interlocking mechanisms of which the most important are standards (codes of conduct), internal management system requirements to allow for group certification, traceability requirements, and systems, independent verification, and consumer facing labels. VSS are usually owned and governed by different stakeholders, including producers, retailers, and NGOs . Retailers, chocolate product manufacturers, traders, and processors have all adopted VSS, which is the main force driving the adoption by producers.
- Individual corporate initiatives are a form of corporate social responsibility and self-regulation, whereby a business monitors and ensures active compliance with the spirit of the law, ethical standards, and national or international norms. A firm may engage in actions that appear to further a social or environmental good, beyond the interests of the firm and that required by law . Corporate programmes have increasingly been used by traders-exporters, processors, and manufacturers since the mid-2000s, who have offered packages of interventions or services (such as organising farmers into groups, training, credit, and farm inputs (fertilisers, agrochemicals, cocoa seedlings, equipment) to farmers and their organisations, as a way to secure supplies of cocoa beans of specific quality, produced in specific, often traceable, environmental and social conditions.
- Platforms, networks, and associations refer to partnerships of private, public, research, and/or civil society (CSO) or non-governmental (NGO) organisations collaborating on a common goal of sustainability with a declared policy or programme and plan of action.
- NGO and CSO campaigns have aimed to raise awareness and lobbied for changes on a sector and chain scale.
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Data Collection
2.3. Farmer Household Data Analyses
2.4. Building the Counterfactual: Robustness Analysis and Validation
3.1. Better Incomes, Better Crops—Economic Indicators
3.2. Better Lives—Social Indicators
3.3. Better Environment—Environmental Indicators
3.4. Changes in Service Packages and Intensity
4.1. Positive, Mixed, and Modest Impacts of Certification and Service Packages for Farmers
4.2. Sustainability Initiatives: Separating Certification from “Certification Plus”
4.3. Spillover from Certification
4.4. Positive Outcomes, but Still Insufficient?
- Focus on topics that matter most: target interventions more closely to match farmers’ varying demographic, economic, and farm characteristics, with tailored mixes of service packages that focus on farmers’ specific needs and the most problematic practices relating to child labour, input use, shade trees, and waste management.
- Address the specific barriers (such as farmer uncertainty about investing in cocoa related to tenure and fluctuating prices, farm renewal costs) and enablers (such as targeted access to farm inputs and training, taking a farm household approach rather than focusing only on cocoa) to improve sustainable cocoa production and livelihoods of cocoa farmers.
- Current incentives of certification and associated services are insufficient to motivate all value chain actors: higher cocoa productivity often entails higher costs for farmers, while not all certified farmers receive a premium, since not all certified produce is sold as certified, due to low market uptake. A stronger uptake of certified cocoa by the industry is needed to reward and compensate certified groups and farmers for their sustainability investments. These factors suggest that investments are needed to close sustainability gaps and reinvent tools to sufficiently and adequately implement and diagnose and address sustainability gaps and underlying causes. This includes tensions of (over)supply and low prices, which harm farmer incomes, risk mitigation and accessing more profitable value chains, and enabling access to credit.
- Combine high intensity packages of good agricultural practice training with farm inputs to have higher economic impact. The most successful service delivery models have provided training via cooperatives free of charge for farmers, with fertilisers and agrochemicals generally provided on credit, paid for with cocoa beans. The main risks of this model for farmers and cooperatives are being locked into a supply chain or purchasing contracts that, depending on prices and premiums, may not be attractive. For traders and service providers, there are also risks of providing services and farm inputs to farmers and cooperatives who eventually may default.
- Certification organisations, and grinders/processors, traders, and manufacturers providing services, could engage with the government and CSOs to ensure a holistic, complementary, and aligned sector, value chain, and landscape scale interventions. An example is the Cocoa & Forests Initiative, which started in 2017 in Ghana and Ivory Coast, where the majority of public and private stakeholders are involved, and local, national, and international scales of action are connected to address cocoa related deforestation and degradation holistically.
- Focus on combining bottom-up farmer and top-down industry and government visions for a sustainable cocoa sector. The current imbalances in power in the value chain between stakeholders in the value chain mean that hearing farmers’ and their organisations’ voices and visions in partnerships is imperative. Initiatives that strengthen farmers’ engagement in societal partnerships, such as emergence of stronger national and international cocoa farmer’s organisations, such as the merger between World Cocoa Farmers Organization (WCFO) and the International CoCoa Farmers Organization (ICCFO) are, therefore, critical.
- Take a transformational approach to provoke systemic change in the West African cocoa sector. A systemic transformation should address at least the issues of environmental degradation, farmer households, and living incomes, worst forms of labour, and the interlinks between national, regional, and international cocoa market economics and politics, that are currently largely unaffected by certification and corporate sustainability programs.
Conflicts of Interest
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|Sample 2012/2013||Sample 2015/2017|
|Number of Cooperatives||Number of Farmers||Status in 2017||Number of Cooperatives||Number of Farmers|
|Ivory Coast||UTZ in 2013 & 2017||91||788||606||37||339|
|Non-UTZ 2013 & 2017||6||156||156||8||79|
|UTZ 2013, Non-UTZ 2017||166||5|
|Ghana||UTZ in 2012 & 2015||6||258||235||6||235|
|Non-UTZ 2012 & 2015||3||127||117||3||117|
|UTZ 2012, Non-UTZ 2015||0|
|Variable||Non-Certified||UTZ Certified||Variable||Non-Certified||UTZ Certified|
|Female respondent||4%||3%||Female respondent *||13%||20%|
|Household size ***||7||8||Household size||6||6|
|Farm size ** (ha)||4||5||Farm size (ha)||3.78||4.58|
|Ownership *||85%||77%||Share of land owned||59%||51%|
|Oldest plot (years)||23||22||Year establishment farm||1996||1994|
|Farmer age||52||50||Farmer age||50||49|
|Agro-ecological Excellent (Zone 1)||51%||50%||Time to farm in minutes||36||35|
|Agro-ecological Good (Zone 2) **||49%||36%||Number of farms **||59%||71%|
|Agro-ecological Marginal (Zone 3) ***||0%||15%||Respondent household head||94%||93%|
|Share of cocoa income ***||82%||93%||Hiring labour||80%||81%|
|Share cocoa as total land area ***||48%||66%||Household member is purchasing clerk||8%||10%|
|Share of female adults||30%||30%|
|Education in years household head||7.3||6.7|
|Share hired labour ***||9%||4%|
|UTZ Outcome Area||Indicators at Farm Scale|
|Better incomes, better crops (Economic Indicators)||Production practices score 1|
|Productivity per hectare|
|Production costs per hectare|
|Profit per hectare|
|Total cocoa income|
|Social practices score 2|
|Children working on hazardous farm activities|
|Use of Personal Protective Equipment|
|Environmental practices score 3|
|Use of compost|
|Use of shade trees|
|Use agrochemical and waste chemical management|
|Economic Indicators Equation (1)||UTZ||Non-Certified||Effect Equation (1)||Robust||Modalities|
t = 0
t = 1
t = 0
t = 1
|Ghana||Production practices score||0.45||0.56||0.39||0.49||0.009||No effects found|
|Productivity per/hectare||282.5||311.2||262.5||321.2||−47||Yes||No effects found|
|Production costs per/hectare||127.3||385.7||163.8||542.8||−104||Yes||↑ With trainings|
|Profit per/hectare||956.5||1274||822.3||1441||−355 **||Yes||No effects found|
|Total cocoa net income||3826||5094||3289||5765||−1419 **||No||No effects found|
|Ivory Coast||Production practices score||0.446||0.497||0.346||0.403||−0.01||Yes||Higher for group 4|
|Productivity per/hectare||520||500||256||411||−179 ***||Yes||Higher for group 4|
|Production costs per/hectare||22,720||31,125||29,467||33,966||3056.85||Yes||No effects found|
|Profit per/hectare||377,238||527,857||160,907||425,113||−116,515**||Yes||No effects found|
|Total cocoa gross income||1,692,480||2,575,645||747,808||1,767,034||−128,710||Yes||No effects found|
|Social Indicators |
|Baseline t = 0||Endline t = 1||Baseline t = 0||Endline t = 1|
|Ghana||Social practices score||0.33||0.44||0.25||0.39||−0.023||Yes||Higher for certified farmers|
|Days children <18 on hazardous activities||0||0.12||0.66||1.36||−0.25||Yes||No effect|
|Days children <14 on hazardous activities||n.a.||0.17||n.a.||0.66||n.a.||Yes||No effect|
|Use of protective equipment||0.34||0.57||0.44||0.63||−0.05||Yes||Higher for certified farmers|
|Ivory Coast||Social practices score||0.49||0.6||0.41||0.51||−0.01||Yes||No effect|
|Days children <18 on hazardous activities||0.25||0.16||0.18||0.14||−0.04||Yes||No effect|
|Use of protective equipment||0.21||0.46||0.17||0.35||0.06||Yes||No effect|
|Baseline t = 0||Endline t = 1||Baseline t = 0||Endline t = 1|
|Ghana||Environmental practices score||0.17||0.24||0.13||0.22||−0.039||Yes||No effects found|
|Shade trees||0.18||0.33||0.15||0.30||−0.01||Yes||No effects found|
|Waste management||0.21||0.33||0.15||0.30||−0.06||Yes||Lower increase for farmers receiving more training|
|Ivory Coast||Environmental practices score||0.49||0.53||0.46||0.48||0.02||Yes||No effect|
|Shade trees||0.28||0.27||0.19||0.14||0.05||Yes||No effect|
|Waste management||0.70||0.75||0.55||0.70||−0.11 ***||Yes||No effect|
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Ingram, V.; Van Rijn, F.; Waarts, Y.; Gilhuis, H. The Impacts of Cocoa Sustainability Initiatives in West Africa. Sustainability 2018, 10, 4249. https://doi.org/10.3390/su10114249
Ingram V, Van Rijn F, Waarts Y, Gilhuis H. The Impacts of Cocoa Sustainability Initiatives in West Africa. Sustainability. 2018; 10(11):4249. https://doi.org/10.3390/su10114249Chicago/Turabian Style
Ingram, Verina, Fedes Van Rijn, Yuca Waarts, and Henk Gilhuis. 2018. "The Impacts of Cocoa Sustainability Initiatives in West Africa" Sustainability 10, no. 11: 4249. https://doi.org/10.3390/su10114249