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Why would (young) women seriously invest in cocoa farming?

anna laven's picture

There is ample evidence that shows that women contribute significantly to cocoa production, but their contributions are not recognized and valued the same way as the contribution made by men. In general, women’s main work in cocoa production is related to early plant care and post-harvest activities. Although men and women conduct different tasks in cocoa production, the time invested is more or less the same.

It are still the men who generally acquire land and lead the production process. One of the men’s task is the marketing of cocoa which gives them access to farmer organisation, training and services, and moreover gives them control over the income earned by selling the cocoa. This while we know that men tend to spend their income differently than women. Women invest more in health, education, housing and food security than their male counterparts.

This tradition is a concern for different reasons, both economic and social. The need to attract a future generation of cocoa farmers is put forward as a major challenge. A problem is that there are hardly any role models that inspire young people. Especially for girls and young women. The women that are recognized as female cocoa farmers are generally elder ‘single’ women, being divorced or widow. These women tend to cultivate small plots of land, face high labour costs (as they don’t have easy access to family labour) and are hardly educated. The invisible women, like the spouses of cocoa farmers, often help their husbands on the farms without getting too much in return. Also women are hardly presented in other positions, for example as service provider, extension agent or trainer, or as cooperative leader. As a result, overall women’s interests are underrepresented, which makes the sector as a whole less attractive to invest in.

Of course times are changing and increasingly (but still marginally) women are getting access to benefits of cocoa production. But the fact is that cocoa farming is not lucrative and involves hard work. For women cocoa becomes more attractive when it leaves enough time to spend on food production, not in the least because women tend to control the income that is coming from food. This is why a family approach, investing as cocoa sector in both cocoa and food production, is the way forward. This way women and men are more likely to benefit from the family farm and stay in the cocoa and other business.


I just received a comment on my blog, as being a good summary of the problem but still missing the proof that helping food production will also help cocoa production. What do you think?
I think the comment really points out some issues related to the role of women in cocoa based revenue family outlining her importance in regard to food security. the analysis seems well oriented however saying that investing in food security will keep people in cocoa sector is not quite true. as she said women are more involved in food security because they control the revenues from this activity, which is true and demonstrate that people only stay in a business when they can make money. Attracting young in cocoa sector means being able to address the issues their generation is facing in regard to cocoa cultivation. for example, in the past our parents did not care either having access to tv set or not. today the younger generation wants to have access to information and want to see what's going on in other part of the world and for that they need to have more revenue to be able to have access to what they call minimum need for their generation. so it is all about cocoa sector being able to improve revenue of the cocoa business for farmers.


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