Consultancy - Research on Living Income for Ghanaian Cocoa Farmers (INT8056)


Company Oxfam
Category Agriculture
Location Accra
Job Status Contractor/Co...
Salary GH¢ 
Education PhD
Experience 3 years
Job Expires Dec 09, 2021
Contact ...

Company Profile

Oxfam is a rights-based global development organization with more than 70 years of experience in more than 90 countries worldwide. Oxfam’s mission is to end the injustice of poverty and inequality through systemic change and the advancement of political, economic and social rights. Oxfam has been working in Ghana since 1986, managing programs related to food security and livelihoods, universal access to education and healthcare and transparency and accountability in extractive industries (mining, oil and gas).

Oxfam’s experience in Ghana and strong partnerships with government institutions, Ghanaian civil society organizations and NGOs supports the delivery of active and innovative programs and advocacy work seeking to improve the livelihoods of Ghanaians and strengthen citizen accountability. Oxfam in Ghana currently works in 11 out of Ghana’s 16 administrative regions.

Job Description

Consultancy - Research on Living Income for Ghanaian Cocoa Farmers (INT8056)
Oxfam is a global movement of people working together to end the injustice of poverty.




The challenge of low farmer incomes has become a priority issue within the Ghanaian cocoa sector over the last few years. Improving farmer incomes has become a priority of the leading government agency, COCOBOD[1], of cocoa traders and chocolate companies, such as Olam or Mars and industry associations, such as the World Cocoa Foundation.

Many of these efforts have corralled around the concept of living income as the benchmark for a decent standard of living. The concept of living income goes a step beyond traditional notions of poverty alleviation that are concerned with basic subsistence and survival. It puts a strong emphasis on the idea of decency and earning enough income to live comfortably.

Despite years of interventions aimed at improving cocoa farmers’ incomes, many farmers do not earn sufficient income to ensure a decent standard of living for themselves and their families. Recent assessments have highlighted the significant living income gaps of Ghanaian cocoa farmers.This includes gender-specific barriers to earning higher incomes, such as limited access to land, lack of control over household finances, adverse gender norms, lack of time due to care duties, and barriers to acquiring technical expertise all hinder their ability to earn higher incomes more than they do for men.

As the issue of living income is gaining increasing prominence in the cocoa sector, governments and companies are embarking on efforts to raise the incomes of cocoa farmers. In 2019 the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana announced the new Living Income Differential (LID) of 400$/MT for cocoa exports. While the LID helped to raise farm gate prices in last harvesting season by 28%, its implementation has been marked by a lack of transparency and hindered by a slump in the global cocoa market due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The private sector also has ramped up its efforts to help raise farmer incomes in Ghana. Their efforts to date have mostly focused on individual pilot projects (sometimes in collaboration with NGO or development partners) supporting a particular group of farmers. Companies engaged in living income interventions in Ghana include retailers (Aldi, Lidl, REWE), chocolate companies (Mars, Nestle, Mondelez) and traders/processors (Olam, Cargill, Barry Callebaut). The dominant pathways appear to be productivity increases and income diversification strategies. There also are other companies, such as Tony Chocolonely or FairAfric who have made living income part of their business and procurement model.

Despite this momentum around living income in the Ghanaian cocoa sector, there is a dearth of insight about how to best close living income gaps and for whom. This project aims to analyze existing living income interventions and strategies by governments and the private sector in the Ghanaian cocoa sector with an emphasis on how to make a living income a reality for farmers especially women farmers. While there is lots of momentum around living income, there is a lack of data and insights into the current and potential impacts of existing strategies and interventions for different farmer groups. Farmer perspectives are also absent from this discussion. This project can help fill these gaps.

Oxfam intends to utilize the research results in its private sector influencing. With the findings of this project we will be able to make evidence-based contributions to discussions regarding the potential pathways for cocoa farmers to earn a living income.

The primary audience of this research project is the community of stakeholders in the Ghanaian cocoa sector including trading companies, chocolate manufacturers, government agencies, civil society and farmer organizations, and certifiers.  

The secondary audience of this research projects is the cocoa sector beyond Ghana and stakeholders in other commodity sectors dealing with the issue of living income.

The engagement with companies will be a priority both during and after completion of this project. The goal is to use the outcomes of this project to facilitate a convening with interested companies and other stakeholders.

The main objectives of this research projects are:

  1. Assess the implementation of the LID and its impact on female and male cocoa farmers
  2. Assess state of implementation and direction of companies' living income strategies and projects and their impacts on female and male farmers to date
  3. Analyze the impact potential, risks, and uncertainties of different pathways towards a living income for different groups of Ghanaian cocoa farmers


1 Income levels and gaps  

1.1 Based on existing data, what is the average living income gap of Ghanaian cocoa farmers? How does this gap differ between male and female farmers?

1.2 What are the main determinants of income levels based on the existing research (e.g. land size, land title, productivity, access to market, gender, age of farmer, etc.)?  

2 Government interventions – the living income differential (LID)  

2.1 How is the LID being implemented at the technical level? How are companies paying for the LID and how are these payments transferred to farmers? What data gaps exist?

2.2 What credible evidence exists that companies have either supported or tried to circumvent the LID? Is there evidence for companies using their bargaining power to not pay the LID or shifting sourcing to other countries?

2.2 How have cocoa farmers benefited from the LID? By how much has the LID increased farmer incomes and have women benefitted as much as men?

2.3 What percentage of funds COCOBOD receives from cocoa companies reaches the farmers? What happens with the rest of the funds? What difference does the LID make in this equation?

3 Private sector interventions – sustainability strategies  

3.1 What are the key cocoa and chocolate companies in Ghana doing to support farmers earning a living income? What type of interventions are prioritized by different actors? Do companies design gender-inclusive strategies and interventions? Do they address the impact of their own procurement practices?

3.2 How are companies defining living income? Do they have baselines, concrete strategies and targets in place?

3.3. What data is available to assess the success of living income interventions? What is the quality of existing MEL systems and are they standardized enough to allow for comparison across projects?

3.2 How successful have private sector interventions been in raising incomes, especially for women farmers? What key success factors and barriers have facilitated/hindered their success?   

3.3 How have women benefited from private sector interventions on living income compared to men?

4 Pathways towards a living income

4.1 Based on the analysis under 2) and 3), what are the most promising pathways of moving towards a living income for cocoa farmers? What is the impact potential of different pathways?  What are their main risks and drawbacks?

4.2 What alternatives exist to raise the incomes of cocoa farmers in Ghana and what needs to happen to get there?

This project takes living income as its guiding concept. A living income is calculated as the average income that a household needs to have and maintain a decent standard of living including sufficient good food and drinking water, decent housing, access to health and education, decent clothing, necessary transport, other essential needs and a provision for unexpected events and/or contingencies.[1]

Important elements of the living income concept include its focus on the household level, the consideration of costs of production (net income) and different income streams (on-farm and off-farm), and its context-specificity (i.e. living income can vary from place to place due to different household sizes or varying costs of living).

The evidence base around living income levels and gaps in the Ghanaian cocoa sector has improved in recent years. Several assessments exist and new research are under way. This research project will not conduct its own living income assessment but instead will complement and build on these assessments by analyzing the effectiveness of different strategies to close living income gaps.

To evaluate the success of living income interventions, impact areas need to be clearly defined. The four impact areas this research project will prioritize are:

  • Income (by how much incomes increased as a result of the intervention?)
  • Gender and inclusion (how are women benefitting from the intervention compared to men? Which farmers are benefiting the most from living income interventions?)
  • Sustainability (how likely are income gains to be sustained over time?)
  • Climate and environment (are interventions effectively addressing climate and environmental risks faced by cocoa farmers)
  • See Ghana Living Standard Survey VII:   

Gender differences are often sidelined in living income assessments due to the concept’s focus on the household level. This project will emphasize and single out the incomes of women and the degree to which they are benefiting (or not) from the interventions analyzed for this project.


  1. Literature review (existing income assessments, descriptions of company interventions)
  2. Semi-structured interviews with companies (sustainability staff, procurement manager, field level staff)
  3. Farmer surveys (focused on assessing income impacts of interventions)
  4. Semi-structured interviews and focus groups with farmers (adding qualitative insights)
  5. 3 Expert interviews (with local partner organization, extension workers, and research organizations)

The key data sources for this project will be three-fold:

  • Official government data, especially from COCOBOD about the financial flows related to the LID
  • Company data on living income interventions and their outcomes
  • Community level data collected through field visits (visit five communities in Ashanti, Western North regions and Eastern regions)

Consultant is to deliver a quality research report not more than 40 pages published by Oxfam in Ghana.

The primary research product will be a research report published by Oxfam in Ghana







Sign contract


Hard copy


Research outline/plan

17th – 21 / 01 2022

Soft copy


Desk study




Interviews with Farmer organizations, private sector, and government.

1-28/ 02/2022

Virtual/ face to face interviews


Draft report (and validation workshop)

14-18/03 2022

Soft copy


Validation workshop


Face to face/ Virtual (depending on the situation)


Final report


Soft copy

This research project will follow Oxfam ethical principles, rules and procedures to manage risks involving participants, particularly farmers. The project will be designed to reduce risks for participants and increase their possible benefits from its outcome. Researchers will gain informed and voluntary consent before conducting research with participants. Participants will also be informed how Oxfam would like to use the research findings. Participants will be free to choose, whether or not they can be quoted or identified in other ways in Oxfam materials.

Required Skills or Experience


  • Must possess a Master or PHD in Agriculture Sciences, Statistics, international development, international relations, social sciences, or similar disciple.
  • The assignment seeks a candidate with experience and skills undertaking similar jobs in Living Income or farmers income.
  • The candidate must demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of Cocoa sector and farmer income issues in Ghana.
  • Working experience in NGO sector will be an added advantage specifically working in the Agricultural sector.
  • Be available and willing to undertake field trips to the project site to conduct face to face interviews.

How To Apply

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