Key points:

  • Take a family approach. Investing in the improvement of incomes for female cocoa farmers can be very beneficial for cocoa communities.
  • Women cocoa farmers tend to invest more of their money in health, education, housing, sanitation and food security.

Why?

The World Bank (2008) reported that women, more than men, spend their income on food, thus improving household food and nutrition security.

In cocoa producing areas, high levels of stunting (reduced height of children) and child mortality are witnessed (Table 2). Research shows that there is a relationship between the lack of female empowerment and malnourishment amongst children on cocoa plantations in West Africa (Boer & Segay, 2012; Schubert 2013). Empowering women has been found to be one of the most effective ways of reducing chronic child malnutrition (IFAD, 2014).

In cocoa producing areas high levels of stunting (reduced height of children) and child mortality are witnessed

Table 2: Under-nutrition in Côte d’Ivoire & Ghana

Cocoa Production AreaCocoa production (1000 MT)Stunting (reduced height in children)Child mortality
Côte d’Ivoire
Ouest19134%11%
Centre-Ouest46730%17%
Sud-Ouest36929%16%
Sud28929%13%
Ghana
Ashanti15627%8%
Western52427%7%

Source: de Boer & Sergay, 2012

Women, more than men, spend their income on the health, education and nutrition of their family members. Male farmers often spend large parts of their income on personal rather than on family needs. Of every dollar invested in women in poverty stricken areas, 90 cents will go towards her family and local community, while of that same dollar, men only invest between 30 and 40 cents in their families (ICRW, 2009).