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8 Feb 2023

Antonie C. Fountain (Voice Network),
Friedel Hütz-Adams (Südwind Institut)

Cocoa Barometer 2022 says systemic changes in governance policies and in purchasing practices are necessary to address challenges in cocoa sector

"Cocoa Barometer 2022" December 2022


Several interrelated challenges come to the foreground around environmental protection. Deforestation and loss of biodiversity are driven by cocoa production, climate change is both affecting cocoa production and made worse by cocoa-driven deforestation, and agrochemical use is causing both environmental damage and is hazardous to those applying them.

Child labour continues to be a challenge in West African cocoa production, where children are involved in age-inappropriate and hazardous labour. Gender inequality raises barriers for women, both as rightsholders and as agents for change.


The two branches of the cocoa problem tree – environmental protection and human rights – both stand on a tree trunk of farmer poverty. This poverty is exacerbated by the current cost-of-living crisis.


Research from this Barometer shows that the favoured approaches so far to raising farmer poverty are not going to bridge the income gap; higher yields do not necessarily lead to increased net income but do lead to greater risks for farmers. Without significantly higher farm gate prices, sustainability in the cocoa sector is a pipe dream.

In order for cocoa to truly become sustainable – where cocoa farming households are able to earn a living income, where nature is protected and flourishing, and where all rights (including those of children, women, and other marginalised groups) are safeguarded – real change is necessary. Systemic change.

In that light, the development of supply chain legislation in cocoa consuming nations is a very positive development, although their level ambition as well as the way they will be implemented will determine whether they will have the desired outcome.

The sector change that is needed cannot just come through better farming; a key approach needs to be to look at the enabling environment of the cocoa sector. Systemic changes and improvement are necessary in governance policies and in purchasing practices. Only when these are in place is there a business case for thriving farmers.