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Cocoa in Ghana
What are the problems faced by cocoa farmers?
What is Fairtrade?
The Fairtrade Mark
Kuapa Kokoo – good cocoa farmers
What does Kuapa Kokoo mean for the cocoa farmers?
Dubble deal
Ethical shopping

What are the problems faced by cocoa farmers?

Cocoa farmers’ lives are hard. On average, they earn £325 a year1, and despite growing much of their own food, they need cash to pay for many essentials such as inputs for their farms, school fees, medicine, doctor’s fees, transport and clothes. As part of the chocolate producing chain, cocoa farmers face a number of other problems too:

  • The price of cocoa on the world market continues to fluctuate up and down.
  • This means cocoa farmers have no long-term security, and in some situations, can’t even cover their farming costs.
  • Farmers often only receive a fraction of the price their beans sell for on the world market because there are several people in the trading chain. In the early 1990s, cocoa farmers were getting less than half of what international buyers were paying.2
  • The things farmers need to buy, because they can’t make or grow them themselves, such as tools, fertilisers and pesticides, medicine, food and clothes, are expensive.
  • Farmers are often paid by local cocoa buyers using cheques or vouchers, which the farmers then can’t cash, or which bounce.
  • Farmers are often underpaid by local cocoa buyers using ‘fixed’ scales, set to show a lower reading than the actual weight of their cocoa beans.
  • Even in hard times, it is difficult for farmers to switch to other crops, which may take time to grow and need new farming skills.

The experiences of Ghanaian cocoa farmers mirror those of many primary commodity producers all over the world, caught in a trading system that benefits the multinational companies based in the richest countries, such as the UK.


  1. This figure is based on: the average smallholder farmer producing 5 sacks of cocoa a year at 65 per sack.
    (Farm gate price of cocoa in Ghana = 150 cedis per sack in 2009/2010. Average exchange rate for year to 31/03/10 = 0.4335.)
  2. Source: Pauline Tiffen, The Story of Kuapa Kokoo, published in 2000.
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