Cocoa farmers better off

Increased competition among buyers and farmers organising themselves in cooperatives have led to better business opportunities for smallholder cocoa farmers in Liberia, NAI researcher Gun Eriksson Skoog concludes in a fresh study. She is now in Liberia to share her findings with farmers and Liberian officials.

“The coca farmers are still depending on the buyers, but their position has definitely improved, thanks to a new form of market”, Eriksson Skoog says.

“Competition between buyers and exporters have replaced the old monopoly market. This development has benefited the smallholder farmers”, says Eriksson Skoog.

The cooperatives have strengthened the farmers bargaining position. However, during her field work in Liberia 2013, some farmers pointed out the risk for elite capture of cooperatives.

She now hopes Liberian authorities will uphold competition on the market to prevent buyers to become too powerful.

Nowadays the buyers demand higher quality cocoa which leads to better prices to the producers. There is also an increasing propensity to invest due to credit given to farmers by the buyers.

“There is of course a risk that this could lead to farmers becoming dependent on the buyers. However the present system with competition is an improvement. Now the farmers can sell to another buyer if they wish”, says Eriksson Skoog.

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