A wide range of problems are facing families in cocoa communities, including child labour; gender inequality; (infant) malnutrition; lack of access to education; insufficient health care facilities and sanitation; and a variety of labour rights violations for smallholders, workers, and tenants. Environmental issues such as deforestation and climate change remain a growing concern.
Driving all of these problems is the key issue of farmer poverty. Current approaches to tackle this problem are failing, because they are not taking into account a key issue; prices at farm gate are simply far too low. Colonial-era dynamics in cocoa supply chains, which saw vast wealth extracted from cocoa producing regions, continue to influence corporate and political attitudes to the problem.
In order for living income to become a reality for cocoa farmers, action is needed on three separate fronts: good governance policies by public bodies; good purchasing practices by the private sector; and good agricultural practices by farmers. For the past two decades, however, almost all of the cocoa sector efforts have been focused on farmers themselves, sidestepping the necessary changes in government policy and purchasing practices needed to tackle sustainability issues.
It is high time the focus shifted to the necessary changes at the level of good governance and purchasing practices.
The 2022 Cocoa Barometer is a biennial state-of-sustainability overview of the cocoa sector, diving deep into the issues discussed above, and much more. Visit www.cocoabarometer.org to download the full report and read the executive summary.