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Fair Cocoa Zone (FCZ)

Against a chocolate-less future: bringing youngsters together to build a circular cocoa system which protects both environment as humans.

Photo of Linda Klunder
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Africa In Motion (AIM)

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small NGO (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

ECASARD COCOBOD Wageningen University and Research (WUR) The Cacao Coalition SheFarms Kumasi

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • Under 1 year

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?


Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

The Netherlands

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

The Amansie West District Assembly; it spans an area of about 522 square Kilometers with a total of 70 communities.

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

The place is a cocoa growing area with huge potential but unfortunately illegal gold, better known as galamsey, is a threat to cocoa production. Due to unsustainable employment, the youth have resorted to illegal gold mining resulting in destruction of forests and some farmlands. There is rapid loss of biodiversity and destruction of water bodies and aquatic life. Labour to work on the farm is a challenge as farmhands are very limited and if available very expensive. 

Creating a sustainable value chain will ensure job creation and better wages which will be a disincentive for the inhabitants to risk their lives in the illegal mining operations. It will also help preserve biodiversity and protect water bodies. 

Why is this Place important to you? How are you connected to it?  

A volunteer of ECASARD works in the Mpatuam operational area working as a Technical Officer for COCOBOD. The place is important to ECASARD because farmers livelihoods are at risk and this has a tendency of worsening the farmer’s living conditions. Most farmers in the area do not see cocoa farming as a lucrative venture. Kwaku Boateng (not real name) indicates that “all these beautiful houses you see here are not cocoa money but monies from illegal mining” if cocoa enterprises can be created along the value chain that provides fair wages for the people, it will help curb the activities of illegal mining and create a conducive environment for a healthy cocoa system to be established.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

The District lies entirely in the rain forest belt and exhibits moist semi-deciduous characteristics. It is resourced with timber, herbs of medicinal values and fuel wood. However, the virgin Forest cover has been degraded in several areas in the District. Factors such as increased population, excessive and reckless logging for export and environmentally unfriendly mining activities are responsible for the alarming rate of deforestation in the Amansie West District. As a result, the typical forest cover of the District has been destroyed and replaced by a mosaic of secondary forest, shrub covered land and agricultural holdings. It is only in a few areas, particularly those immediately outside the forest reserves in the District that traces of  Virgin forests are found. The topography of the District is generally undulating with an elevation of 210m above sea level. The most prominent feature is the range of hills, which stretches across the northwestern part of the District.

The population of the District is more rural in nature with 91.5 percent rural while the urban area accounts for only 8.5 percent. Mpatuam has the highest rate of immigrants. The District’s economy is regarded as agrarian, largely due to the sector’s contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) generally, labour absorption and to foreign exchange earnings. The contribution of agriculture, forestry and fishing accounted for 59.2 percent of the district economy. The sector however, is gradually losing value to the mining and quarrying sectors as most of the able body young men and women have taken to this sector as source of livelihood leaving children and the elderly in the agricultural sector. Major crops produced include cocoa, citrus, plantain, among other food crops. 

The District’s population is made up of nine main ethnic groups. The largest group is the Akan, which accounts for 87.3 percent of the population. The Other ethnic groups in the district include Dagbani (7.5%), Ewe (1%), Gas (0.4%) and Guan (0.3%).

In terms of religious affiliation, a large proportion (77.8%) of the people are Christians. Muslims constitute 7.6 percent, Traditionalist (0.5%). Those who profess to have no religious affiliation constitute 12.9 percent.  

The adjoining Regions and Districts provide opportunity for brisk commercial activities in the District. The location of the District makes it the gateway to Ashanti from the Western and Central Regions. This offers great potential for promoting the development of its hospitality and the arts and crafts industries.

 The main festival celebrated by the people is the Akwasidae.

The hope of the people is to improve their standard of living by reducing poverty and enhancing access to adequate social services.

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.


Farmers and caretakers are the actors at the core of cocoa cultivation. They encounter many challenges that the sector has been discussing over the years. They have relatively smaller land holdings, lower yields, lower levels of income from cocoa, little to no income source diversification alternatives, which all lead to livelihood challenges and persistent poverty. They rely on loans for most part of the year and thus highly indebted. They sometimes resort to using their children as important source of farm labour and thus confronted with the issue of child labour. Their greatest burdens are household upkeep money, children’s education, household health, and purchasing inputs for their farms. 

Currently, the yields of cocoa farmers in the Amansie West District are low due to the lack of agricultural knowledge, the challenges of monoculture plantations, and the repeated challenge of diseases as the so-called “cocoa swollen shoot” virus (CSSV). 


The cocoa production has the potential to do no harm to the environment when properly managed, however, currently it is the number one reason for the high deforestation rates in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, which together supply as much as 60 percent of the world’s cocoa. Within the Mpataum region this has resulted in a rapid loss of biodiversity, destruction of water bodies, and aquatic life. 

Approved inputs are quite expensive for farmers. Credit input schemes are risky because of farmer default with payments. Farmers resort to cheap but unapproved chemicals. Pest and diseases continue to persist, getting worse by the day and climate change is fuelling it. As a result, Incidence of pests and diseases is getting worse and needs an effective input delivery system to tackle this. 


Currently, the cocoa sector is one of the least inclusive sectors in the world. First of all, the supply chain is characterized by an extreme unequal division of resources. Where a farmer receives 4-6% of the revenue of a chocolate bar, the retailers and producers receive as much as 45%. Supermarkets are important actors in the cocoa chain yet one that hardly takes a direct responsibility for any of the challenges within the chain. They are insulated from the pressures from consumers because of their remote connection to the production base where many of the challenges occur. Yet they keep quite a greater percentage of the value of the cocoa chain. Some specialty shops are however creating a direct link to their source of cocoa beans and using that as a niche market. They work towards shortening the chain and paying relatively higher prices to farmers. 

With regards to gender equity,  there is less recognition of women's participation within the cocoa supply chain despite the fact that women often play a role as farmers (an estimated 25% in Ghana) by taking care of early crop care, fermentation and drying. 

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

We believe in youth, financial solutions, women's empowerment and entrepreneurship.


The Fair Cocoa Zone (FCZ) improves agricultural productivity, which means an increase of the yields. By increasing the yields, the following will increase as well: inputs, demand for workers on the land, workers who carry yield from farm to village, storage facilities, waste management and sale of the produce. These increases will help the local employment population grow, with sustainable transfer of knowledge and competence, technology and innovation. 


By introducing the benefits of climate forecasting and new agro techniques, FCZ is helping farmers to increase their crop production. Also, the platform allows the female farmers to share and learn from each other (teach-the-teacher). Food loss reduction: Drought is the most important risk to Ghana's agricultural sector (2016 Ghana Agricultural Sector Risk Assessment - World Bank Group). SheFarms is working on introducing sustainable low-cost rainwater harvesting and reduce the post-harvest loss. Revenues from the farm: by providing access to broader domestic and international markets and granting fair, premium prices. 

 Financial and Gender Inclusion 

 One of the main reasons smallholders aren’t obtaining financing is simply because  financial institutions do not consider them attractive customers to serve. Digital technology has the potential to change that. By providing the farmers with a detailed record of their crop productions and revenues, FCZ enhances their chances to access loans from financial institutions with more convenient interest rates than MFIs. 

Limited access to financial resources

Women in Ghana are slightly less likely to hold an account in a formal financial institution compared with their male counterparts (27.1% of women had accounts at formal financial institutions in 2011, compared with 31.8% of men World Bank's Ghana Living Standard Survey 6). So whereas the percentages for female and male holding formal bank accounts and receiving loans are similar, women are extremely more likely to borrow from MFIs. By organizing support groups and VSLA'sp[1] we want to support women and men to become less dependent on external loans with high interests. 

[1] A Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) is a group of people who save together and take small loans from those savings.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

The Fair Cocoa Zone’s vision is to improve the quality of life of farmers, the youth and the surrounding communities. The FCZ will be an inclusive zone for women and youth to provide hands-on skill training across the agriculture value chain; from better farming practices to marketing and the implementation of value added properties. FCZ will ensure women participation specifically in leadership roles. By having a 51% women in leadership from training the farmers to managing production for export.  Moreover, the FCZ will be a zero-waste zone that uses circular methods to ensure that every aspect of the cocoa value chain is used to provide new products and services. This will provide an increase income and provide multiple revenue streams for the farmers and community. 

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Currently, the cocoa sector in Mpataum is suffering from a number of interconnected challenges, of which the youth are central. Due to unsustainable plantation and mining activities both people and nature are threatened, resulting in a rapid loss of biodiversity, destruction of water bodies, aquatic life and exploitative labour practices. For instance, The Detwi, Jenin and Bonte rivers both in the Mpatuam operational area have been destroyed. Difficult to notice any aquatic life unlike about 10 years ago. Rapid loss of biodiversity includes vegetation loss, economic trees such as Odum, Sapele etc are difficult to find these days. in some areas, the vegetation has been reduced to trenches filled with polluted water. The willingness of youngsters to enter the sector is low due to the low earnings per kilo, resulting in an exodus from the youth. As a result, they either migrate to urban areas or enter into more hazardous but profitable sectors as the mining industry - resulting in a loss of knowledge, dangerous work environments and fewer cocoa producers in the future. 

If the youth cannot be incentivized to become active as cocoa farmers or entrepreneurs, the cocoa sector might not exist anymore in 2050 (with 57% of the Ghanaian population being <25). As the cocoa sector is extremely dynamic and complex we decided to use a holistic method towards describing these challenges by following the Production, Protection and Inclusion approach (PPI approach) which has been developed by the IDH. Although a chocolate-less future is not wished for by anyone, these developments can result in a severe shortage in cocoa by 2050 (according to some sources this could already be the case in 2025!). 

Within the Fair Cocoa Zone (FZC) we will address all of these challenges by connecting the problems within one zone. The FZC is a geographical location (with a first focus on Mpataum) where we will teach youth and farmers how they can monetize certain by-products of the cocoa harvest. As a result, farmers will no longer be merely dependent on the sale of their cocoa beans but also have the possibility to diversify their income by selling their current waste (pods and pulp). Next to that, we will aim on local production - keeping most economic value (going from 6 %to 43%) within the region and also increasing the bargaining power of all farmers and communities involved. 

The Fair Cocoa Zone (all 6 themes)

The Fair Cocoa Zone’s vision is to improve the quality of life of farmers, the youth and the surrounding communities. The FCZ will be an inclusive zone for women and youth to provide hands-on skill training across the agriculture value chain; from better farming practices to marketing and the implementation of value added properties. FCZ will ensure women participation specifically in leadership roles. By having a 51% women in leadership from training the farmers to managing production for export.  Moreover, the FCZ will be a zero-waste zone that uses circular methods to ensure that every aspect of the cocoa value chain is used to provide new products and services. This will provide an increase income and provide multiple revenue streams for the farmers and community. 

Improvement in yields and education (Economic & Environment)

Merely an improvement of agricultural practices will not be enough. Therefore, the Fair Cocoa Zone will have a great focus on education, an overarching theme which is important for the improvement of all mentioned challenges. Next to that, although a higher yield will increase incomes, youngsters will also be taught to make other products from the cocoa pod (e.g. juices, brandy, pallets, and cocoa butter and chocolate nibs) and how to start an enterprise and sell these products. Within the zone, this will be done by finding the right partner organizations to which we can sell our products and diversifying income streams. (see inclusion) As a result, the Mpataum region will produce multiple cocoa products. 

Making use of the digital world (Technology & Economic)

Digital technology opens vast untapped potential for farmers, investors, and entrepreneurs to improve the efficiency of food production and consumption in Ghana and beyond. FCZ will utilize digital technology to improve efficiencies, accountability and transparency. Reducing the marginal cost of operations is essential for financial inclusion and for sustainable zone. Digital channels have been the first step in lowering these costs. Technology, has the potential to enable individualized decision-making in an automated way by providing a new customer-level data. Collecting farmer’s data who are spread across remote areas are a slow and expensive process. From precision farming to an efficient food supply chain, technology could bring major economic, social, and environmental benefits. By significantly transforming the agricultural industry that employs most citizens with technological development, the continent’s GDP will shoot up, competing favorably with the first world. 

Women and Cocoa (Cultural & Economic)

Rural women find themselves in a difficult bargaining position. Whereas the contribution of women is of vital importance to the family’s well-being and survival, it is to a great extent related to the domestic sphere and other non-income generating activities. This is also shown in cocoa dependent families, where women are mostly involved in domestic choirs and cocoa related activities as planting and weeding that do not directly relate to income generation [1]. Therefore, due to the fact that women contribute a smaller part of the ‘perceived household income’, women often have less financial decision-making power within households. Within our FCZ women will become responsible for processes that are closely related to what they currently contribute, however they will be financially enumerated for these specific tasks. As a result we aim on empowering women both culturally as financially by gaining more decision-making power and financial independents. 

[1]  Women spend around 26 hours per week on domestic tasks (Bymolt, Laven, Tyszler, 2018), contribute 43% of the supporting agricultural practices (Bradshaw, 2013) and produce 80% of the domestic food crops (Bradshaw, 2013).  

Yields, diets and income (Diet & Economic)

With an increase in income for households, and specifically women within a household, dietary options will increase. 

Social Media for Awareness (Policy)

The FCZ will work with policy makers to improve the accessibility of semi-finished goods exported. Furthermore, companies will be incentivized for semi-good/finished products imported to the EU. The vision of FCZ is essentially to provide a living wage to those that are working in the cocoa value chain.

However, we do not believe that policy makers and businesses will be jumping on board just like that. Creating awareness is still one of the most important factors to make people move and therefore we will also educate youngsters on how to use social media to tell their story. Because no one else can.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Prize partners


Join the conversation:

Photo of Oluwafemi Abioye

Dear Linda,
This is great, your vision for the cocoa development and women empowerment. Kindly explore linking your project to the country's cocoa board as Ghana Cocoa is at the center stage of attention from the African Development Bank (AfDB).

Good luck.
Oluwafemi Abioye 

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