Creating opportunities for young people in Ghana’s cocoa sector

Working and discussion papers
June 2017

Cocoa production in Ghana supports the livelihoods of approximately 4 million farming households. However, cocoa yields remain stubbornly low and the sector is in need of rejuvenation.

Young people are a key part of the solution to revitalising Ghana’s cocoa sector. A total of 20% of the population is aged 15–24, and 27% of young people are unemployed. Yet the average cocoa farmer in Ghana is over 50 years old – an advanced age in a country where the average life expectancy is just 62 years.

Rejuvenating Ghana's cocoa sector, therefore, has the potential to support youth employment, increase rural incomes and boost the economy at large.

The status quo raises important questions about why young people are seemingly not participating in, or benefiting from, the cocoa sector. This paper presents young people’s experiences of growing up in Ghana’s cocoa belt. It identifies key barriers to their involvement in the sector and highlights opportunities to promote their participation in cocoa farming.

This paper is published by the Youth Forward Learning Partnership, led by the ODI's Research and Policy in Development programme. Youth Forward supports young people in Ghana and Uganda to get jobs, grow their businesses and access finance to expand opportunities available to them. The Learning Partnership works to develop an evidence-informed understanding of the needs of young people and how the initiative can best meet those needs.