Household health and cocoa production: A baseline survey of smallholder farming households in Western region, Ghana

Type Working Paper - Center for International Health and Development, Boston University - Health and Development Discussion Paper
Title Household health and cocoa production: A baseline survey of smallholder farming households in Western region, Ghana
Issue 6
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2005
Chronic illness and premature mortality from malaria, water-borne diseases, and respiratory illnesses have long been known to diminish the welfare of individuals and households in developing countries. Previous research has also shown that chronic diseases among farming populations suppress labor productivity and agricultural output. As the illness and death toll from HIV/AIDS continues to climb in most of sub-Saharan Africa, concern has arisen that the loss of household labor it causes will reduce crop yields, impoverish farming households, intensify malnutrition, and suppress growth in the agricultural sector.
If chronic morbidity and premature mortality among individuals in farming households have substantial impacts on household production, and if a large number of households are affected, it is possible that an increase in morbidity and mortality from HIV/AIDS or other diseases could affect national aggregate output and exports. If, on the other hand, the impact at the household farm level is modest, or if relatively few households are affected, there is likely to be little effect on aggregate production across an entire country.
Which of these outcomes is more likely in West Africa is unknown. Little rigorous, quantitative research has been published on the impacts of AIDS on smallholder farm production, particularly in West Africa. The handful of studies that have been conducted have looked mainly at small populations in areas of very high HIV prevalence in southern and eastern Africa. Conclusions about how HIV/AIDS, and other causes of chronic morbidity and mortality, are affecting agriculture across the continent cannot be drawn from these studies. In view of the importance of agriculture, and particularly smallholder agriculture, in the economies of most African countries and the scarcity of resources for health interventions, it is valuable to identify, describe, and quantify the impact of chronic morbidity and mortality on smallholder production of important crops in West Africa.
One such crop is cocoa. In Ghana, cocoa is a crop of national importance that is produced almost exclusively by smallholder households. In 2003, Ghana was the world’s second-largest producer of cocoa. Cocoa accounted for a quarter of Ghana’s export revenues that year and generated 15 percent of employment. The success and growth of the cocoa industry is thus vital to the country’s overall social and economic development.

Study Objectives and Methods
In February and March 2005, the Center for International Health and Development of Boston University (CIHD) and the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness (DAEA) of the University of Ghana, with financial support from the Africa Bureau of the U.S. Agency for International Development and from Mars, Inc., which is a major purchaser of West African cocoa, conducted a survey of a random sample of cocoa farming households in the Western Region of Ghana. The survey documented the extent of chronic morbidity and mortality in cocoa growing households in the Western Region of Ghana, the country’s largest cocoa growing region, and analyzed the impact of morbidity and mortality on cocoa production. It aimed to answer three specific research questions.
(1) What is the baseline status of the study population in terms of household size and composition, acute and chronic morbidity, recent mortality, and cocoa production?
(2) What is the relationship between household size and cocoa production, and how can this relationship be used to understand the impact of adult mortality and chronic morbidity on the production of cocoa at the household level?

The study population was the approximately 42,000 cocoa farming households in the southern part of Ghana’s Western Region. A random sample of households was selected from a roster of eligible households developed from existing administrative information. Under the supervision of the University of Ghana field team, enumerators were graduate students of the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness or employees of the Cocoa Services Division. A total of 632 eligible farmers participated in the survey. Of these, 610 provided complete responses to all questions needed to complete the multivariate statistical analysis reported here.

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