Higher income for smallholders


At a glance

At the beginning of agricultural supply chains there is usually a small farm. In order for the work to be worthwhile, it must be able to feed at least one (large) family well. The project ‘Living Income in Tree Crops in West Africa’ aims to ensure just that. INA, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), REWE Group and Fairtrade are working together to achieve this goal.

Which cultivation system is the most economically viable? Is a mix of tree crops (e.g. cocoa and cashew, peanut and mango) more profitable than putting everything on one card? Which cultivation practices buffer risks? What will climate change do? These questions are at the heart of the project with a total of ten smallholder cooperatives from Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire that grow cocoa or cashew.

Project goals

The aim is to achieve economic independence for the cooperatives. Their members should be able to earn so much through their work that they and their families can live well from it in the long term. To this end, the project partners are focusing on farmer business schools and the promotion of good agricultural practice. But that alone is not enough. The project also addresses the consumer side and enables higher prices for some farms.


Project implementation

A fair chocolate is a good example: Livelihood-securing income in a supply chain

One component of the tree cultivation project is a fair, traceable supply chain: cocoa farmers of the Ghanaian cooperative Fanteakwa receive a monetary premium equal to the Fairtrade Living Income Reference Price Differentials in addition to the Fairtrade premium and -minimum price. The cocoa's journey from the cooperative to the chocolate bars on the shelves of REWE and PENNY can be followed. Besides the additional payment, the project also includes training sessions implemented jointly with our local partners. The training focuses on more sustainable cultivation practices, more efficient farm management and improved management of the cooperatives. In addition, other crops such as cashew trees are cultivated to generate additional sources of income for the smallholder families. 

Since May 2021, the VeryFair chocolate is sold in Germany and is available in the varieties "Whole Milk & Salted Caramel," "Dark & Almond," and "Darkmilk & Brownie". The chocolate will also be gradually introduced in REWE Group's international sales lines.

Read more about the VeryFair-chocolate here.

Strengthen cooperatives - gain independence

The second part of the project goes beyond the Fanteakwa cooperative. With a total of ten cocoa and cashew cooperatives in Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire, the project partners are working on ways to achieve economic independence. The aim is for the members of the cooperatives to generate an income that is not only sufficient for food, but also for education, housing and insurance. Together with the Ghanaian Ministry of Agriculture, farmer business training courses are offered. They provide the tools for a culture mix that adapts to climate change, for good risk management and quality improvements.

Project partners

Project partners for living incomes

The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) launched the project 'Living Income in Tree Crops' in autumn 2019 together with Fairtrade and REWE Group. Local partners are the Ministry of Agriculture in Ghana, the Cashew and Cotton Board in Côte d'Ivoire and the Competitive Cashew Initiative (ComCashew). ComCashew is supported by numerous companies and governments and is represented in six African countries. The project's main raw materials are tree fruits such as cocoa and cashew.

Extending influence: Bridging the Gap

The more companies that participate, the more we can move the sector and the sooner the gap between current income and a living wage can be closed. This in turn must not be at the expense of natural resources. If your organization or company is interested in cashew, cocoa or another tree fruit from West Africa, INA would be happy to see more contributors. The project gains influence through scaling. Please do not hesitate to contact us.

© GIZ / Ursula Meissner
© GIZ / Ursula Meissner
© GIZ / Ursula Meissner
© GIZ / Ursula Meissner
© GIZ / Ursula Meissner

What has been achieved so far? 

Working Meeting 'Living Income in Tree Crops in West Africa’, October 2020

The members of the project 'Living Income in Tree Crops in West Africa' met for a working meeting in Bonn in the beginning of October. Representatives of Fairtrade, REWE Group and INA looked back on the success of the joint project, which was launched in autumn 2019. The main aim is to support small-scale farmers at the beginning of the supply chain so that they can generate a living income. Key commodities for this are cocoa and cashew, which are grown in West Africa. Ten cocoa and cashew cooperatives in Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire are to become economically independent and generate a livelihood-sustaining income for their members from the income generated by their agriculture. In addition to cash payments to the cooperatives, the project focuses on new business models, including training for farmers and an analysis of existing business practices. Last but not least, the project's raw materials will be processed into chocolate bars, which are expected to be available at REWE and PENNY in 2021.

Six experimental fields have been established for the project so far. 134 cocoa farmers were involved in the subsequent field training sessions. Numerous training courses for farmers have taken place, among other things to expand their knowledge of bookkeeping and accounting. Beekeeping equipment was distributed to groups of farmers within the six project communities involved in the beekeeping training courses.

The close cooperation between the project participants proved particularly valuable during the Corona pandemic. Measures against the spread of the pandemic consisted of distributing soap and disinfectants as well as containers for water to the cooperatives. Thanks to these measures, activities such as training and meetings could be resumed. The sanitary items not only help to minimise the risk of infection, but also give the members of the cooperative a feeling of security, as there is a great fear of social exclusion if they fall ill.

The Ghanaian Ministry of Agriculture, as a local political partner, took care of the transport and the necessary papers for the cocoa beans to be processed.

A glance into the future 

The project partners look optimistically towards the future: In Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire, the members of the participating cooperatives have responded very well to the training courses. One goal for the coming months is to scale up the amount of raw materials. This is accompanied by an open mind for further project partners from industry and trade, who also want to contribute to securing living income for smallholder families.