Working with cocoa farming communities to understand needs and goals for livelihood development

While Ghana is known for its beautiful landscapes and friendly culture, as well as its Cocoa, it was identified as the country with the most alarming deforestation rate between 2017 and 2018, (Global Forest Watch & World Resources Institute in 2019). One of the key drivers for deforestation is land-use change associated with Agriculture expansion, and notably with cocoa.

As a signatory of the Cocoa & Forest Initiative (CFI); General Mills has committed to accelerating the preservation and rehabilitation of forests as well as improving farmer livelihoods in the cocoa-producing regions of Côte d’Ivoire & Ghana.

To support General Mills ambitious goals, this program focuses on activities that support income diversification, farmer empowerment and awareness to protect and restore forests within General Mills sourcing regions in both countries.

Since January 2020, PUR Projet has been working with General Mills to implement the General Mills’ Cocoa Ecosystems and Livelihood Program in the Kakum HIA region of Ghana and the Mont Peko region of Côte d’Ivoire.

This Program will implement and track the impact of activities such as agroforestry, cookstoves and beekeeping have on beneficiaries. To set a baseline for current income levels our Central Operations Officer (Pierre Candelon) took on the chance to conduct a Socio-Economic Study with a Ghanaian consultant (Justice Phillip Kaati).


In Ghana, General Mills’ Cocoa Ecosystems and Livelihood’s program aims to support local communities to diversify their livelihood, and to support the protection of Kakum National Park. Thus, the first assessment aimed at understanding a socioeconomic profile of community members – both to assess the impact of projects activities and to improve their design. 

Conscious of the importance of balancing social, environmental and economical issues, the survey tackled the following aspects:

  • On the social side, we asked questions on the household composition, the access to natural resources, sanitation, water supplies, education, community structuring, etc. 
  • On the economic side, we teamed up with our Impact Investing expert, Victor, to capture information as precisely as possible on both farming and overall household economics. It was important to take into consideration the plausible fluctuation of incomes in a context where community members are not keeping an accounting track of their earnings and expenses. Knowing the social and economic components of households will enable us to track the use of and the need for natural resources, such as timber. As the two communities border a protected National Park, it is critical to be able to meet the needs of alternative livelihoods within the project itself, through agroforestry to provide food and timber, for example.

Conducting multiple interviews daily, collecting the data can sometimes be a challenging task, but we made strong connections with the community members and had wonderful conversations about the number of hours spent per year on harvesting tomatoes. It may seem anecdotical, but other cultivated crops than cocoa are often the main driver of self-sufficiency, and being able to assess cost and benefits of cultivation of these crops will be an additional argument to diversify income and auto consumption sources. Luckily, our local consultant, Justice, will carry on with those surveys over the length of 1.5 months. 

In the upcoming months, we hope to be able to present the comprehensive results of this case study as well as provide our team with guidelines on how to adapt the form to various local contexts and challenges, how to hire the right people to get the survey done, and how to analyse the data.

The surveys will be essential to design the next steps of the project implementation as well as addressing the following interrogations: 

  • Which activities support additional value to households?
  • What are the project dimensions that can be improved? 
  •  Who are the beneficiary categories who would be the most in need of short and middle term revenue-generating activities? 

It also can enable us to identify dimensions that we do not cover in our projects. We have also many more studies planned!

To watch how well-designed agroforestry projects in cocoa supply chains add to sustainable development, offering social, environmental and economic benefits: click here

Pierre Candelon

Pierre joined PUR Projet in summer 2019. Based in Paris, he is co-coordinating the PUR Lab, the “research hub” of PUR Projet, that aims at delivering high-quality knowledge on the communities and ecosystems we are working with, setting up monitoring and evaluation processes, and maximizing our impacts on the long term.

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