14. March 2018

Study Launch Workshop - Calculating a Living Income benchmark for cocoa growing regions of Ghana

Under the banner of the Living Income Community of Practice, over 50 actors with a stake in Ghana’s cocoa production, including producers, government actors, businesses, sustainability standards, researchers and NGOs, met for a workshop in Accra to launch a pivotal study aiming to calculate the cost of a decent standard of living for smallholders in Ghana’s cocoa growing regions. This is part of wider research to pilot the calculation of benchmarks representing the cost of a decent standard of living for cocoa smallholders in both Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire from the perspective of the living income concept.

The undertaking of these benchmarks is motivated by recent fluctuations in the price of cocoa which has had inevitable effects on smallholder incomes. This has been particularly pertinent in the cases of Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire as two of the worlds largest cocoa exporting countries.

The purpose of the launch workshop was to engage actors, both with a stake in, and affected by, the study’s outcomes; building an understanding around the work and giving actors an opportunity to provide input on key facets of the study’s scope and approach.

The workshop commenced with an introduction of the living income concept, the Living Income Community of Practice (a learning platform coordinated by ISEAL, Sustainable Food Lab and GIZ) and the goals of the study. Noura Hanna, from Rainforest Alliance provided input on how the decent cost of living benchmark would help to drive improvements:

“The study will help to concrete efforts to bridge the income gap and trigger actions around the livelihoods of smallholder farmers” – Noura Hanna, Rainforest Alliance.

Building a common understanding on the methodology used to define the regions and calculate the cost of a decent standard of living, is key for this type of launch workshop. With that in mind, the Ghana research team, composed of Independent researcher, Sally Smith; Associate Professor, Daniel Sarpong and enumerators from the University of Ghana, provided an overview of the methodology being implemented.

This methodology is based on the decency costing component of a mixed methods approach developed by Richard and Martha Anker (formerly of the ILO and WHO respectively) for the calculation of living wage that has been adapted to the smallholder and living income context. The Anker Methodology* is described in their book ‘Living Wages Around the World: Manual for Measurement’ and is applied across benchmarks produced by the Global Living Wage Coalition (GLWC).

Another major component of the adopted research methodology is that it encourages consultation with stakeholders for buy-in so that the subsiquent benchmark produced is accepted and actionable, and so that questions raised by the research team during the scoping study can be clarified. In this case, the opportunity was used to receive endorsement and confirm the study locations which best represent typical cocoa farmers across Ghana’s cocoa regions. This was useful as participants, who had extensive on the ground experience and local knowledge, were able to clarify representative farmer locations that were less easy to discern from the initial secondary data review. The opportunity was also given for participants to ask questions about the methodology and process.

Representatives of funding partners and wider stakeholders; namely the World Cocoa Foundation, Cargill, GIZ, UTZ/Rainforest Alliance, the Ghanaian Ministry of Employment and cocoa producer groups: Kuapa Kokoo and the Cocoa Abrabopa Association, then spoke on how the benchmark would be useful. Examples described included the informing of national agricultural policy, the provision of a clear reference point for various actors to discuss and work around, the review of the success of existing efforts to improve incomes and the informing of new strategies to close income gaps.

“This data will give us a perspective on if what we are currently doing is working for smallholders and to what extent our attempts to increase incomes are working.” – Samuel Quaque Noble, Cargill Ghana

Finally, representatives from the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), presented on a close to completion study, looking into existing incomes, various facets of the cocoa production and characteristics of cocoa growing households in Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire. This was discussed as a potentially useful data source for comparison with benchmark (once completed) in order to make a deductions on the gap between existing and decent incomes and also to potentially make inferences around how identified gaps could be addressed in the context (e.g. through developing farmer practice and income modelling).

For more information on the study please refer to our project overview document or email adam(at)isealalliance.org . For specific questions about the Ghana benchmark – please email Stephanie Daniels (sdaniels(at)sustainablefood.org), for questions on the Ivory Coast study please refer to Friederike (friederike.martin(at)giz.de).


Funders and partners:

*The Anker methodology is a well-regarded and widely used methodology which is grounded in international standards of decency. Different components of the cost of a decent standard of living: the cost of decent food, housing, non-food non-housing (healthcare, education etc.) and a margin for unforeseen events, are respectively calculated using instruments such as focus group exercises, model diets, smallholder market purchase mirroring, decent housing valuation tactics, and household expenditure ratios. For more information on the methodology please click here.