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).