Project Investigator: Dr. Sarah Eissler

Small-scale agriculture-dependent communities face increased pressures and challenges linked to anthropogenic climate change. While social-environmental systems gradually evolve to accommodate such variability, there is growing evidence to suggest that increased incidence of drought, flooding, and natural disasters exacerbates vulnerability of marginalized populations, such as small-scale commodity producers and more specifically, women. Small-scale agricultural producers in the Global South rely on crop production to meet basic needs and will experience the most severe impacts from climate change as they often lack resources and capacity to adapt. Due to current sociocultural landscapes, women are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change, facing economic, cultural, and social constraints with regard to access to paid employment, asset distribution, opportunities, and resources, often limiting them to unpaid care and labor tasks. Climate change impacts will likely overload women's workload and time burdens, and these disproportionate burdens will be exacerbated as these unpaid labor tasks, while both a critical component of household economic activity and household wellbeing, are often overlooked by development initiatives and capacity building programs. 

This research study presents an intra-household analysis of gendered divisions of labor and its implication for household adaptive capacity to impacts of climate change for small-scale cocoa producers in Indonesia. In small-scale cocoa producing households, women's labor contributions are essential to the sustainable supply of cocoa. They are involved in all stages of cocoa production but are not considered the household farmer and as such, are often overlooked for capacity or skill building opportunities or trainings. Much of the current literature examining gender and small-scale cocoa production is contextualized to West Africa, the leading global producing region of cacao. None has yet to examine the gender dynamics of small-scale cacao production in Indonesia, the third largest global producer of cacao. 

Drawing on qualitative case studies from two Indonesian provinces, this study explores intra-household dynamics of small-scale cacao producers to understand household gender divisions of labor, and how men and women perceive and adapt to impacts of climate change. Primary qualitative data were collected over a seven-month period in 2017 in two Indonesian provinces (Lampung and South Sulawesi), including 11 focus group discussions with 117 participants, and 49 in-depth interviews with men and women small-scale cacao producers and women within small-scale cacao producing households. Quantitative data on divisions of labor was assessed from a random sample of 221 small-scale cacao producers. 

This analysis presents the first evidence of divisions of labor in cocoa-producing households in the Indonesian context. It employs contextual and gender-disaggregated quantitative data to reveal intra-household dynamics on decision-making, time allocation, divisions of domestic and agricultural labor, and how these relate to (in)abilities to adapt to impacts of climate change. Results show that women are actively involved in small-scale cocoa production in Indonesia, albeit to varying degrees. Their participation is shaped by socio-cultural norms, and hindered by a lack of access to training, skill building, or resources. Although men are considered the “chocolate farmer" (as cocoa farmers are referred to in Indonesia), women are responsible for several production and post-harvesting steps and make critical adaptation decisions related to optimal production and sale of household cocoa production, particularly in light of a changing climate. 

Climate change has tangible impacts on both men and women's activities in the cocoa value chain, requiring various adaptation strategies that have implication for production. Men and women interpret and discuss impacts of climate change differently, as men consider these in terms of agricultural production whereas women describe impacts with regard to household wellbeing. This research provides qualitative insights into how climate change impacts men and women within the same household differently, and how men and women are able to respond to those impacts. Policy, programming, and further research must address intra-household dynamics and the women's labor role in family farming as well as income-generating activities. And as global demand for cacao rises and impacts of climate change increase with severity and frequency, it is essential to address women's participation in the Indonesian cocoa value chain. 

Final Report: Chocolate and Climate Change: Investigating Gender Dynamics of Small-Scale Cacao Producers in Lampung and South Sulawesi Indonesia

PDF document, 2.7 MB

Our Partners



 University of Galway

Bosserman Center for Conflict Resolution