The effects of private governance in Ghana’s cocoa-growing communities. A case study of Toms Group’s interventions in Bibiani cocoa district.

Start date: 23 November, 2015 End date: 31 January, 2016 Project type: Master's Thesis (prior to 2018) Project code: A29248 Countries: Ghana Institutions: University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Denmark Grant recipient: Anne Damgaard Møller Total grant: 20,000 DKK



The global cocoa-chocolate value chain has gone through a regulatory restructuring during the past three decades. Governance of the cocoa-sector in producing countries has formerly been dominated by public institutions, but is increasingly influenced by private actors in the value chain. In particular, there has been an increase in the participation of chocolate manufacturers and cocoa grinders in the regulation of cocoa productivity and quality, as well as local living conditions in cocoa growing communities. This has partly happened in response to societal pressures, and partly in response to a projected demand for cocoa that succeeds the current production.

This thesis investigates the effects of such private governance on cocoa growing communities. It does so through two “best case” studies in Ghana’s Western Region. The case studies are conducted within the context of the Danish chocolate manufacturer, Toms Group’s supply chain and the sustainability programme they have implemented in cocoa communities. The thesis investigates how community members perceive change from Toms Group’s interventions to increase productivity and combat child labour.

The findings show a potential of private governance to positively affect cocoa growing communities with regards to increased yields and income as well as changed perceptions about the use of child labour. However, due to the strong competition among buyers of cocoa, lead firms have limited power to enforce their standards in cocoa communities. To effectively address the problems faced, the interventions must therefore be designed so that farmers perceive rewards of complying with standards. Participation by lead firms in the cocoa-chocolate value chain is identified as an important resource with potential to foster positive development in the sector. However, the thesis points to the risk of unequal spatial development if the tasks of governance are left entirely in the hands of private actors.