Key point:

  • Gender equality and equity could lead to higher productivity levels and improved rural livelihoods.


Both yields and productivity levels are generally lower among female cocoa farmers than male. Data from the Sustainable Tree Crops Program (STCP) data show that yields (per hectare) of women are on average 61 kg less than that of male farmers. Closing the gender-based yield gap would generate an additional 30,000 MT of cocoa beans (World Bank, 2012).

The yield gap is related to a range of barriers women face: lower education levels, smaller and less fertile plots, time constraints due to competing (household) responsibilities and limited access to credit, inputs, equipment and training. For example, in Ghana, the percentage of female cocoa farmers without any education is double that of male cocoa farmers.Also, female cocoa farmers in Ghana use only half as much insecticides as their male counterparts (Hill and Vigneri 2009).

Women also have less access to land and cooperative membership and in consequence, have less access to training, credit and inputs.

Figure 1: Productivity among West-African cocoa farmers, Male (F) and Female (F)


Source: Fortson et al. 2011

Best practice: Cocoa Life
“We believe gender equality benefits everyone and is essential if cocoa communities are to thrive. That’s why promoting women’s empowerment has been a cross-cutting theme in Cocoa Life since 2008.” In both Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, Cocoa Life takes steps to address gender inequality. A range of actions are used to develop their gender work in five key program areas:

Farming: Improving training for female farmers and women working on cocoa farms, and increasing women’s access to farm inputs, land ownership and membership of farmer organizations.
Livelihoods: Increasing access to finance for women; improving literacy and household food security.
Community: Empowering women to play an active role in decision making in their households, communities and in district and national farmer forums; engaging women in drawing up Community Action Plans; training community leaders, Cocoa Life implementing partners and Cocoa Life staff in gender awareness; engaging government institutions at district and national level on issues that affect women.
Youth: Promoting women and girls’ involvement in the Cocoa Ambassador scheme and community reading clubs.
Monitoring and evaluation: Global, high level Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and local metrics are designed in response to our commitment to gender mainstreaming for each program objective and focus area.


World Bank (2012) Cocoa Sector Policy Brief. PREM 4:Africa Region. Washington DC: World Bank

Hill, R, Vigneri, M. (2009) Mainstreaming Gender Sensitivity in Cash Crop Market Supply Chains. London, UK: Overseas Development Institute.

GTZ (2009) Opportunities and Constraints in Agriculture: A Gendered Analysis of Cocoa Production in Southern Cameroon. Division ‘State and Democracy’: Programme Promoting Gender Equality and Women’s Rights.

Greene, M., Robles, A. (2013) A Sustainable, Thriving Cocoa Sector for Future Generations: The Business Case for Why Women Matter and What To Do About It.

World Bank/FAO/IFAD (2008) “Executive Summary: Investing in women as drivers of economic growth.” In: Gender in agriculture sourcebook. World Bank: Washington D.C.