Certifications, child labour and livelihood strategies: an analysis of cocoa production in Ghana

Owusu-Amankwah, R.



There have been various innovative initiatives by global and local actors in response to pressure on cocoa value-chain actors to free cocoa production from child labour (CL) and especially the worst forms of child labour (WFCL) and also to improve the livelihoods of farm families. Analyses of the implementation, implications and the appropriateness of these initiatives in driving change in the cocoa supply chain and improving the labour and income conditions in cocoa farms are limited, however. This study examines initiatives being led by the key actors in the value chain – the governmental initiative of a community-based child labour monitoring (CCLM) system (CCLMS), that led by business actors of third party voluntary cocoa certification (TPVCC), and farmers’ own way of diversifying income – in order to understand current developments in the cocoa value-chain and analyse the dynamics between the local and global actors and the effect of these dynamics for the reorganisation of the cocoa production system in Ghana.

This thesis employs an interdisciplinary perspective and combines innovation theory with livelihood, social perspectives and other social science tools to empirically investigate the initiatives as they operate at micro-, meso- and macro-levels so as to ascertain their implications for farmers’ livelihoods and children’s social situations. It also reflects scholarly interest in understanding how global-level development interacts with and affects local-level development, and how globalisation shapes and mediates local influences within the cocoa production system.

Firstly, the CCLMS study (Chapter 3) reveals three kinds of benefits to children: an expanded social network, a reduction in their participation in hazardous work and an improvement in school attendance. The findings show that absenteeism on the part of the pupils in a community with a CCLM intervention is approximately half that of two communities without intervention. In addition, it is observed that although children are involved in hazardous and non-hazardous activities in all the three communities involved in the study, the extent of their involvement in hazardous activities is higher in the communities without intervention.

Secondly, third party certification (TPC) formulated by the business actors is a key innovation in the cocoa production system of Ghana. The study presented in Chapter 4 shows the potential of TPVCC to mobilise financial, human and social capitals to address gaps and

dysfunctions and create a win-win situation for all the actors of the value chain. However, sector-wide standards that address sector specific needs taking into consideration the views of chain actors, especially farmers and their socio-cultural context will enhance compliance. This is because global or international standards cannot be imposed but are analysed, contested and adapted by farmers to suit on-the-ground practices. The study also shows the potential of TPVCC to address CL and livelihood issues, but these will yield better results if it is implemented in enhanced socio-economic conditions. Regardless of these positives, the net benefit of certification is unclear due to the difficulty in conducting proper cost-benefit analyses in the absence of proper documentation of farmer-level costs and other factors.

Thirdly, the findings show that about 70% of farmers are diversifying into other (non-cocoa) farm and non-farm activities using largely indigenous resources, but on a small scale and at subsistence level. This condition means that the goal of farmers to supplement cocoa income and reduce risk is not achieved throughsuch a level of diversification. There is some indication of increasing importance of income and resources from non-farm activities, but income from cocoa continues to determine household income as well as the demand for non- farm goods and investment in the non-farm sector. This study also finds that children are involved in both farm and non-farm activities, which can be classified as hazardous and non- hazardous. Farmers, especially caretakers, producing at subsistence level are likely to use their children to supplement labour needs. Some policy recommendations are made in the areas of economic incentives and multi-stakeholder collaboration to stimulate the sector towards sustainability.