Is the culture of cocoa beans in Ghana moving towards a sustainable world economy?

Since the discovery of the cacao bean in the new world by the famous explorer Christopher Columbus, the bean traveled halfway across the world and has been developing in Ghana since 1978. – Eugénie Jost et Jérôme Küffer

The production of cacao bean is very prosperous in Ghana and the demand for it is very high. Essentially used for exportation, the country becomes, as of 1911 until 1978, the biggest producer of cacao bean in the world.

Figure 1 – Source : Inkota, 2013

Cacao bean represents today more than 20% of the global production and is the main source of revenue for more than 90% of the farmers in the country.

West Africa is the most important region in terms of production. The methods and organizations used for the production of the bean are still on a human scale, with 80% of the production that still comes from independent families that own less than 5 hectares.

Brown gold became lead

However, in a context of a global economy with open barriers, the country has a hard time capturing revenues and profits.

The organization “make chocolate fair”, has studied what revenue is attributed to each step of the production chain.

In 1980, local farmers earned on average 16% of the selling price. Today, the country only gets 6% of the revenues while the chocolate multinationals are increasing their benefits, in the detriment of the small producers. The big firms and the stock market have all the power and therefore are dictating the price of the bean.

Figure 2 – Source : Inkota, 2013


Local initiatives

Source : Eugénie Jost et Jérôme Küffer

In order to be independent and not depend on the stock market, many local Ghanaian producers are starting a new adventure: produce their own Ghanaian chocolate. This important step can bring an added value to the country and help retain some of the profit.


Coffee, the seed that was left behind

Coffee culture began in Ghana in the 18th century following the arrival of the first Christian missionaries. It is mainly cultivated by small land owners and grows in the same areas as cocoa does in Ghana. Although cultivating coffee is a less delicate process than cultivating cocoa, it is not as popular amongst the people of Ghana.

Why such disinterest for coffee?

In 1991, the government launched a project to diversify the country’s agriculture. This project aimed to reorganize the coffee industry by improving prices, liberalizing the market, and improving research. However, it was not enough. A few years later, low prices and poor marketing of the seed caused farmers to lose interest in growing coffee.

Figure 3 – Source : International Coffee Organization, 2018

Yellow : non-coffee growing areas

Pink : coffee growing areas


2011: Coffee Rehabilitation Project

In the early 2010s, cocoa, in turn, is experiencing the disaffection of the stock market price. To mitigate the negative effects, the Ghanaian government decides to diversify agriculture and revive the planting of coffee. The Coffee Rehabilitation Project (CRP) decides to implement strategies to introduce coffee as alternative source of household livelihood. The main goal for this project is to increase coffee production for exportation as well as for local consumption and to improve the standard of living of coffee farmers. With these targets in mind, abandoned coffee farms have been rehabilitated while new farms have been established by financially helping producers.

Figure 4 – Source : International Coffee Organization, 2018


What about today?

The Ghanaian state has covered more than 2400 hectares, 200 km northeast of Accra. In order to promote its program, the state donated the first coffee seeds to small farmers and provided them with fertilizer in order for them to start their production. It takes four years to harvest the first fruits.

The coffee: a young and trendy drink

Coffee shops, which are developing in all the major African cities, are helping Ghanaian coffee to increase in popularity. Foreign investors are interested in this product from Ghana. In addition, a young academic, Emi-Beth Aku Quantson, launched in 2015 a start-up « Kawa Moka » around the Ghanaian Robusta by opening addresses in strategic locations in Accra. His addresses attract people of all ages. In 2016, she won the 3rd place of the Africa Cup start-ups.

Figure 5 – Source : U.S Ambassy Ghana Facebook page

Eugénie Jost et Jérôme Küffer



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