Women working on a cocoa farm in West Africa.
Most cocoa farms in West Africa are too small to work economically, and yields remain way below what could potentially be achieved.
Photo: Shutterstock

29.05.2019

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Current cocoa prices cannot ensure farmers a living wage. The German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa, launched by Germany’s ministries of development and food and agriculture, seeks to improve the living conditions of cocoa farmers, particularly in West Africa, and formulated new targets for this venture in Berlin/Germany in mid-May.

Cocoa farmers were better off 30 years ago. Since the 1980s, the growing volatility of world prices has led to a steady decline in price levels. The cocoa plantations are obsolescent, and farmers are spending very large amounts of money on fertilisers, seed and saplings. Since yields are nevertheless low, the families resort to the rainforest, where they clear new areas. Also, child labour continues to be anything but a rarity.

The German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa (GISCO) was started in 2012 to counter this development. It is a joint initiative of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), the German sweets and confectionary industry, the German retail grocery trade, and civil society, and now numbers 76 active members. At this year’s members’ assembly of the Initiative, held in Berlin in mid-May, new targets were formulated to improve the living and income situation of cocoa farmers, particularly in West Africa.

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