Towards sustainable cocoa production: a mixed method assessment of the influence of local governance modes on the farm level impact of private cocoa certification standards in Ghana
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Cocoa is an agricultural good produced mostly in West Africa. The export of cocoa is paramount for the economies of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire which are the two biggest producers. The cocoa supply chain, faces a lot of issues especially in producing countries at the farm level. Poverty, poor working conditions, and the use of child labour are just a few examples of the issues related to cocoa production. Furthermore, the hard working conditions and the low financial rewards lead to younger generations seeking other sources of income. This cocoa exodus leads to an increase in the mean age of cocoa farmers which jeopardises future cocoa supply. The problem is further exacerbated by increasing demands for cocoa on the world market. These issues have led to a call for improvements in the social, economic, and environmental aspects of cocoa farming in order to avert serious supply shortages of cocoa in the near future. The dominant actors in sustainable production have traditionally been national governments or supra-national organisations. The increasing consumer demand for sustainable cocoa, along with the apparent failure of national governments in addressing the issues in cocoa production, have led to the rise of private certification standards. Private certification standards, a form of private governance, are usually the result of cooperation between civil society and market actors. The benefit of private governance is usually a marketing advantage for market actors (through a visible certificate on the products) and a means for civil society actors to pressure market actors into Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Cocoa is one of the supply chains that has undergone certification in recent decades. The benefits of becoming certified for a farmer relate to increasing yields, increasing profitability of cocoa farming, and improvements in farmer livelihoods. The rise of private standards has led to two forms of regulation of the cocoa sectors in producing countries: public governance and private governance. The goal of this research is to verify what the influence of local public governance modes is on the uptake and impact of certification. The initial research plan entailed a comparative case study design where Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire would be compared. The cocoa sector in Ghana is heavily regulated by a government institute called COCOBOD. The cocoa sector in Côte d’Ivoire, however, has little regulation providing a useful contrasting case. Safety issues in Côte d’Ivoire have made this initial research plan impossible, leading to an intensive case study of the Ghana cocoa sector instead. Mixed method analysis with both quantitative and qualitative data has been used during the research. The two data sources were further supplemented with desk research in order to triangulate the results. The qualitative data was collected through semi-structured interviews with major stakeholders in the Ghanaian cocoa sector. The data, along with desk research, provided insights on the functioning of COCOBOD and identified the policies that affect cocoa farmers and cocoa certification. The functioning of these policies were then verified through quantitative data collected from certified cocoa farmers. Descriptive and statistical analyses were used to verify the impact of COCOBOD policies and the uptake and impact of certification at the farm level. The results of the analyses show which COCOBOD policies have an influence on the uptake and impact of certification, and whether this influence is likely to be positive or negative. Not all policy outcomes extracted from the qualitative data have been double checked with quantitative data 3 resulting in some uncertainty regarding their impact at the farm level. The policy impacts that have been verified show mixed results as to whether public policies are beneficial for certification or not. What has been concluded is that the policy regarding the distribution of inputs by Hi-Tech and CODAPEC is inefficient in its current state. Furthermore, the price fixing policy in relation to the input distribution leads to inequities as all farmers pay indirectly for the inputs, but not all farmers receive them or receive them to the same extent. However, extension services of the Cocoa Health and Extension Division of COCOBOD appear to be beneficial both for the uptake and impact of certification standards. The final conclusion of the research is that public and private governance mechanisms in the Ghanaian cocoa sector have the same goals and apply roughly the same methods. Heavy regulation in the form of public governance from COCOBOD is therefore likely to be positive for the uptake and impact of certification standards. However, COCOBOD lacks the capacity to effectively address the current issues in the Ghanaian cocoa sector. Therefore, increased cooperation to harmonise the efforts of the NGOs, cooperatives, Licensed Buying Companies, COCOBOD, and private certification standards is needed to effectively address the current issues related to cocoa production. Public Private Partnerships through the Ghana Cocoa Platform are likely to improve sustainable cocoa production in Ghana and secure a sustainable cocoa supply in the future.