Côte d’Ivoire: Validating the Living Income Benchmark for cocoa growing regions

September 26, 2018


On September 13th 2018, leaders from across Côte d’Ivoire’s cocoa sector came together with the global chocolate industry in Abidjan to provide feedback on the draft Living Income benchmark study for the country’s cocoa growing regions.  The Living Income Community of Practice hosted the workshop which focused on the methodology and results of the benchmarking exercise and its comparison with actual incomes. Also discussed were the implications of the study outcomes and next steps for smallholder income improvement.


Mr Mian Amoakon moderated the workshop, and opening addresses were provided by Ivorian government ministry representatives: Mr Traoré Drissa, Ministère de l'Agriculture et du Développement Rural (MINADER) and Dr Mamadou Gbongue, Conseil du Café-Cacao; who both stated that they were thankful for the work and highly anticipated the results for directing future activities. Adam Romo, ISEAL Alliance, and Friederike Martin, GIZ, then provided an introduction to the concept of Living Income, the Living Income community of practice and the community of practices living income pilot research which also includes a benchmark for Ghanaian cocoa growing regions.


‘This living income benchmark, and its comparison with the current situation for cocoa farmers…will allow us to really understand, and account for, the realities of these households. The Counseil du Café-Cacao is expecting to use the outcomes to fine-tune the interventions currently being implemented by the Ivorian Government’ - Dr Mamadou Gbongue, Conseil du Cafè-Cacao




The Côte d’Ivoire Living Income Benchmark study, and the parallel study being conducted in Ghana, intend to: 1) create credible, robust costs of a decent living assessments for the critical cocoa growing regions of both countries and 2) contribute to the learning about how to calculate and use a living income benchmark for smallholder farmers. 


The research team from the Ivorian research institute CIRES for the Côte d’Ivoire study was composed of Dr Ibrahim Diarra, Dr Yapo N’Guessan and enumerators. Michelle Bhattacharyya (Global Living Wage Coalition) and Dr. Levison Chiwala (University of Malawi) provided technical backstopping. The study followed the Anker methodology[1], and fieldwork was completed over the summer of 2018 in nine cocoa districts: Sud Comoé, Indénié-Djubin, Mé, Agnéby-Tiassa, Gôh, Lôh-Djiboua, Nawa, San Pédro and Tonkpi.





The research results were presented in the workshop by CIRES director, Dr Ibrahim Diarra, and Dr N’Guessan. The opportunity was given for the various stakeholders in the room to comment. This allowed concerns to be raised which would be addressed in the final report and also began a conversation around the implications of the benchmark.


The cost of a basic but decent standard of living calculated in the study is CFA 262,056/month (USD$454/mo) for a family of six (2 adults and 4 children).




Following the presentation and discussion of the benchmark results, Dr Marcelo Tyszler from the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) presented an initial comparison between the newly formed benchmark and existing incomes in the regions. The existing (or actual) incomes used for this assessment were identified through KIT’s ‘Demystifying the Cocoa Sector’ research (full report forthcoming), which used a large survey sample and household self-reporting to paint a picture of cocoa household incomes and characteristics. This analysis will be further developed and included as a companion report to the cost of living reports for both Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.  Unlike living wages and prevailing wages, there is currently no established methodology on how to compare actual incomes to a living income benchmark. 



“Calculating the gap between living income and actual incomes proves more complex than comparison between living wage and prevailing wages…this is in part due to the inherent difficulty in calculating actual incomes” said Dr Tyszler