• Home
  • Greater inclusion of women is needed to optimally intensify cocoa value chains, researchers find

Greater inclusion of women is needed to optimally intensify cocoa value chains, researchers find

A woman carries a basket in Peru. Photo by ICRAF
Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Researchers interview smallholder cocoa farmers in Peru. Photo by Trent Blare/ICRAF

Working with smallholders in the valley of the rivers Apurimac, Ene and Montaro (VRAEM), a region of Peru, is a challenging task.

The region produces approximately 70 percent of the country’s illicit coca and is home to the last remnants of the Shining Path, an armed group that fought against the state between the 1980s and early 2000s.

But the area is now also of importance to cocoa production in the country as governmental agencies, cocoa buyers and development programs have been seeking to help expand and intensify cocoa production. Smallholders who had abandoned their farms after many years of conflict have now returned and are seeking alternatives to coca production.

Researchers from the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) have supported one of the alternative initiatives, a cocoa value-chain development project sponsored by Lutheran World Relief and Sumaqao, a Peruvian cocoa buyer. Sumaqao has a long history of purchasing cocoa in the VRAEM and working with smallholders throughout Peru on fair trade and sustainable production. ICRAF was asked to evaluate how the project could have a larger impact on smallholders’ livelihoods and what steps should be taken to ensure that value-chain development is gender inclusive.

It was an opportunity to examine how gender inequalities — including access to services, participation in cooperatives and decision-making in households — hindered value-chain development, as well as the implications of gender relations for development strategies in the Peruvian Amazon, an area that has received little attention.

The ICRAF team conducted four structured interviews within each of the sampled households — aimed at reducing the potential of bias and inaccuracies — to explore gender-based differences in cocoa participation.

The first set of interviews included female and male household heads together. Following the interviews, the team discussed the answers and considered any discrepancies pertinent to the next interviews. The second set was conducted separately with each household’s primary male and female, covering their productive activities, perceptions of their involvement in cocoa production and the project. Finally, women were interviewed on their use of time the day before, as well as their interest in, and barriers to, their participation in the cocoa value chain. Key informant interviews were also carried out with non-governmental organizations, cocoa buyers and governmental officials to verify and clarify the findings.

A woman carries a basket in Peru. Photo by ICRAF

The results revealed that cocoa intensification programs have greatly enhanced productivity and households’ incomes. Women played an important role in the transformation. They often carried out the same tasks as men, especially harvest and post-harvest activities, and were involved in making decisions on how the earnings from cocoa production were spent. However, women were excluded from making decisions about the marketing of cocoa and the purchase and sale of land and farm equipment.

Importantly, women’s increased participation in cocoa production had not been supported by a corresponding decrease in domestic work. About 30 percent of the interviewed women said that they were constrained by a lack of time to participate in training and cooperative meetings, even though they were interested in cocoa production. Women often felt uninformed about meetings, the provision of technical assistance and market conditions.

By looking at the impact of gender relations on intensification, relevant but nuanced and often neglected aspects of production and marketing that might determine the potential for value-chain development started to become more visible. One of them was the tension between women’s interest in participation in cocoa production and the time they had available for it. The gender dynamics around decision-making were also considered to be possibly related to their constraints in accessing information about markets, buyers and technical support.

Work to enhance cocoa production has had, and will likely continue to have, important impact on household incomes and wellbeing, suggesting that exploration should continue of gender dynamics, focusing on the gender responsiveness of value chains at various levels.

Recommendations for the development of a gender-inclusive value chain included sensitizing technicians to respond to the needs of women interested in cocoa production, testing diverse extension approaches that encouraged learning and exchange between men and women of different ages, as well as the use of alternative forms of communication technology that have a wider reach among different groups with varying literacy levels.

The results also suggested a need to move beyond the promotion of only cocoa to a “livelihoods approach”, which would include other economic activities that are also important for women and their household finances in the VRAEM.

Further, policies and programs promoting the intensification of cocoa production should also explore opportunities to transform gender relations that constrain women’s time, mobility and access to information instead of focusing on static or traditional gender roles that may already be changing because of male out-migration. The role of intersecting disadvantaging factors in creating barriers to deeper cocoa engagement also needs more examination. Further research will be needed to look at how factors like age and marital status influence these barriers at different stages of the value chain.

By Ana Maria Paez-Valencia and Trent Blare, originally published at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World.


This study forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) and CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM), which are supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

  • Home
  • Innovation and excellence from chocolate producers

Innovation and excellence from chocolate producers

A farmer prunes his Carabobo cacao tree, which was originally from Venezuela, in Ghana. Photo by Richard Markham/Bioversity International
Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Chocolates are displayed at the 2017 Salon du Chocolat in Paris. Photo by S. Collins/Bioversity International

Amid preparations for a cocoa bean auction at Amsterdam’s historic stock exchange, Brigitte Laliberté spoke with Bioversity International about the newly released ruby chocolate, the Cocoa of Excellence Programme’s plans for the year and the best chocolates to gift on Valentine’s Day.

The program, coordinated by Bioversity International, is jointly organized with Event International in partnership with the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) and a number of other organizations. It generates incentives for producers to cultivate diverse cocoa varieties, leading to high-quality chocolate as the end result.

Something innovative happened last year – a new chocolate was launched on the global market. What makes ruby chocolate special? 

Ruby chocolate is a new type of chocolate compared to the three classics: white, milk and dark. All of these are results of different ways of processing the cocoa bean: the type of fermentation that the beans undergo after they are harvested and dried. Basically, white chocolate is made of cocoa butter, milk and sugar, milk chocolate cocoa butter and cocoa mass with sugar and milk whereas dark chocolate has no milk, therefore only cocoa (butter and mass) and sugar. All of these may have other ingredients such as fruits, nuts, vanilla and other spices.  But in essence these are the basic differentiations. Ruby has come out as the fourth type. While its ‘recipe’ is under wraps, I’m guessing that they’ve used a combination of fermentation techniques and specific cacao varieties to come up with the trendy pink color. Most cocoa beans are purple in color before they are fermented.

The cocoa bean has endless possibilities of providing different tastes and flavors. In the same way that different ways of processing allow chocolate producers to create thousands of types of chocolate where a piece of chocolate can remind us of banana, coconut or spices. No one wants to eat the same thing over and over again, except for your favorite go-to chocolate.

In a way, it is similar to wine: you might have your favorite wine but it is always interesting to taste something that you have not tasted before. The terroir – how a particular region’s climate, soils and aspect affect the taste of the crop – also makes a difference in cocoa. The same variety planted in Ghana and Australia will taste differently because of the differences in the farms’ soil, agronomic practices and most importantly the fermentation and drying process. Depending on how it is carried out, the amount of days the beans are fermented, the local humidity and temperature can have an impact on the flavor of the bean even if, genetically, it is the same variety planted in another country or even region.

Read also: Celebrating and rewarding excellence in producing high-quality cocoa: The 2017 International Cocoa Award winners

A man prunes a Carabobo cacao tree, originally from Venezuela, on a farm in Ghana. Photo by Richard Markham/Bioversity International

What is the best type of chocolate to give a special someone on Valentine’s Day? 

It does not matter much if it is while, brown or pink, or filled. It depends on what that special someone likes! Do they enjoy a particular type of chocolate? Then that is the one to offer.

What is beautiful is that chocolate offers memory and pleasure, it is an experience. It brings us back to childhood memories. In fact, there is a lot of chocolate we enjoy eating because it brings us back to our childhood.

Personally, milk chocolates are my favorites because of sweet childhood memories in Canada. Dark chocolate has become more of an adult acquired taste. If I need comfort, I’ll enjoy a piece of milk chocolate but if I want to be stimulated, discover something new and connect to a different country and be a bit health-conscious, then I’ll have dark. The darker the chocolate, the less sugar it contains and the more nutrients it has. Nowadays I also tend to go for origin chocolate: I enjoy knowing where the beans of a particular bar come from.

Similarly, if your special someone likes to try new things, the market offers new delicious options such as raw cocoa – that is less fermented – or single estate chocolate, which allows you to discover chocolate from cocoa that was individually estate grown in a single location.

Read also: Cocoa agroforestry is less resilient to sub-optimal and extreme climate than cocoa in full sun

As coordinator of the Cocoa of Excellence Programme, what is keeping you and your team busy?

My team and I are currently preparing the next edition of the Cocoa of Excellence Programme, which will be announced this summer. Before we open the call for all cocoa producing countries around the world, we’ll be reviewing the guidelines and promoting the winners of the International Cocoa Awards that were celebrated in Paris last year.

What is happening that is very special is the Chocoa Trade Fair that will take place in Amsterdam next week. As part of this, we’ll host a chocolate auction at the historical Amsterdam stock exchange: the same place where cocoa was traded centuries ago. We’ll recreate a live cocoa bean auction featuring three winning International Cocoa Awards bean samples, representing Tanzania, Madagascar and Colombia, and have an auctioneer. We hope that the bidders – chocolate producers and other cocoa bean buyers – will offer more than the current price of the cocoa beans; any profit made will go directly to the bean producers for a project of their choice.

Read also: Moving toward a sustainable cocoa sector in Ghana

Originally published on the website of Bioversity International


The Cocoa of Excellence Programme, coordinated by Bioversity International, is jointly organized with Event International in partnership with the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), Guittard Chocolate, Seguine Cacao, Cocoa and Chocolate, Barry Callebaut, Puratos and the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) with sponsorship from the European Cocoa Association (ECA), the Association of Chocolate, Biscuit and Confectionery Industries of Europe (Caobisco), the Federation of Cocoa Commerce (FCC), Nestlé, the Lutheran World Relief (LWR), Mars UK, Valrhona and with in-kind contributions from the Cocoa Research Centre of the University of the West Indies (CRC/UWI), Valrhona, Weiss Chocolate and CocoaTown. This work is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

  • Home
  • Review of the CFC/ICCO/Bioversity project on cacao germplasm evaluation (1998-2010)

Review of the CFC/ICCO/Bioversity project on cacao germplasm evaluation (1998-2010)

Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

The CFC/ICCO/Bioversity project was in response to an urgent need to revitalize cacao breeding and research globally for increasing resistance to pests and disease. It aimed to strengthen national cacao improvement programmes and increase international collaboration by carrying out joint evaluation, selection and breeding activities in ten cocoa-producing countries. The project implemented in two phases – Phase I (1998- 2004) and Phase II (2004-2010), has been one of the most ambitious collaborative efforts in cacao breeding. With an understanding that a similar global collaboration is needed to tackle the impacts of climate change on cacao production, this review was developed in response to a request from the cocoa industry and research partners to evaluate the effectiveness of the project, identify key lessons learned for the implementation of new multisite evaluation field trials focused on increasing the resilience of cacao to the effects of climate change. The cacao research community will be able to use these lessons learned to be better prepared for, and more effective in, the execution of future collaborative research initiatives.

  • Home
  • Celebrating and rewarding excellence in producing high-quality cocoa: The 2017 International Cocoa Award winners

Celebrating and rewarding excellence in producing high-quality cocoa: The 2017 International Cocoa Award winners

Cacao pods lie on the ground after harvesting. Photo by J. Raneri/Bioversity International
Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Cacao pods lie on the ground after harvesting. Photo by J. Raneri/Bioversity International

As the only event in the world celebrating the work of producers and the richness of expression of cocoa, a unique cocoa initiative is helping to further mutual awareness and reinforce collaborations between producers and chocolate makers.

Every two years, the Cocoa of Excellence Programme spearheaded by Bioversity International and Event International recognizes the quality, flavor and diversity of cocoas according to their origin, with the participation of countries that can directly present the fruits of their labors to chocolate makers and the press.

The Cocoa of Excellence Programme is the entry point for the International Cocoa Awards (ICA). It aims to increase awareness and promote education along the cocoa supply chain on the opportunity to produce high quality cocoa and preserve flavors resulting from genetic diversity, terroir and know-how of the farmers who prepare cocoa.

Cacao diversity is also vital for production, as it provides not only different flavors, but also resistance to pests and disease outbreaks, and resilience in changing climatic conditions. Providing opportunities and incentives for safeguarding diversity to farmers and national organizations ensures that a portfolio of options remain available for future needs.

Celebrating the shortlisted entrants at the 2017 International Cocoa Awards at the Salon du Chocolat. Photo by Bioversity International

Following the selection and evaluation of 166 cocoa samples submitted from 40 countries, the wait was finally over on Oct. 30, 2017, for the 50 entrants shortlisted for the 2017 Edition of the ICA. The 18 ICA winners were celebrated at the Salon du Chocolat in Paris, shining an international spotlight on the work of cocoa farmers and cocoa diversity around the world.

“It is the highest reward for the Salon du Chocolat to be with Bioversity International at the origin of this unique program that gathered so many great and indisputable international experts in the world of cacao. Our initial wish was to create a direct link between chocolate makers and producers for reciprocal enrichment, in the qualitative aspects of chocolate and cocoa with all the benefits they entail,” said Francois Jeantet, Creator of the Salon du Chocolat.

“Today our wishes are fulfilled. A big thank you to all the team and all those that participate with passion,” he added.

“The program facilitates communication and linkages between the producers of this wonderful crop that is cocoa that delights the bean buyers and chocolate makers. This communication needs to be standardized so that all the actors along the value chain understand each other, from the farmers to the chocolate makers,” explained Brigitte Laliberté, Expert on Cacao Genetic Resources at Bioversity International.

“We are coordinating an effort on the development of international standards for the assessment of cocoa quality and flavor, for which we convened a consultation at the Salon just this morning,” Laliberté continued. “The meeting led to some very exciting group decisions and innovations in this important area.”

The Cocoa of Excellence Programme is the entry point for the International Cocoa Awards.

After a physical quality evaluation, the beans were carefully processed into liquor and untempered chocolate for blind sensory evaluation by a panel of international experts who are part of the Cocoa of Excellence Technical Committee.

Following the evaluation, the best 50 samples were selected and processed into tempered and molded chocolate (following the same recipe of 66 percent cocoa) for sensory evaluation by a broader panel of 41 chocolate professionals.

“Never before has there been such an assemblage of superb cocoas as we have had expressed as chocolates in these 2017 Edition of Cocoa of Excellence. The flavor evaluation has been both daunting as well as exhilarating. There is more outstanding flavor and diversity from more countries than ever before. The Technical Committee and the additional jury have performed superbly,” said Ed Seguine, Cacao Cocoa and Chocolate Advisors/Guittard Chocolate.

“We continue to believe that the Cocoa of Excellence as well as the International Cocoa Awards will shine the spotlight of flavors, craftsmanship and diversity on these farmers and bring real, meaningful value to them for their beans,” he added.

The 18 International Cocoa Awards for 2017 are:

Africa & the Indian Ocean

  • Ghana Simon Marfo – associated with Cocoa Abrabopa Association
  • Madagascar Mava Sa – Ferme D’ottange
  • Sierra Leone Sahr Bangura – associated with Kasiyatama
  • Tanzania Kokoa Kamili Limited

Asia, Pacific & Australia

  • Australia Australian Chocolate Pty Ltd
  • Hawaii Jeanne Bennett and Bruce Clements – Nine Fine Mynahs Estates
  • Hawaii University of Hawaii
  • India Regal plantations
  • Malaysia Teo Chun Hoon

Central America & Caribbean

  • Dominica Stewart Paris – Paris Family – associated with North East Cocoa Growers Cooperative
  • El Salvador José Eduardo Zacapa Campos
  • Guatemala Asociación Waxaquib Tzikin
  • Guatemala Mariel Ponce – Kacaou
  • Martinique Kora Bernabe and Elizabeth Pierre-Louis – associated with Valcaco – Association des Producteurs de Cacao de Martinique

South America

  • Bolivia Chocoleco
  • Brazil Emir De Macedo Gomes Filho
  • Ecuador Asociacion Quiroga
  • Peru Cooperativa Agraria APPROCAP Ltda.

Adapted from the press release originally published by Bioversity International. For more information, contact Ines Drouault at the Cocoa of Excellence Programme: i.drouault(at)cgiar.org.


The Cocoa of Excellence (CoEx) Programme is the entry point for cocoa-producers to participate in the International Cocoa Awards (ICA). The programme is coordinated by Bioversity International, and jointly organized with Event International in partnership with the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), Guittard Chocolate, Seguine Cacao, Cocoa and Chocolate, Barry Callebaut, Puratos and the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) with sponsorship from the European Cocoa Association (ECA), the Association of Chocolate, Biscuit and Confectionery Industries of Europe (Caobisco), the Federation of Cocoa Commerce (FCC), Nestlé, the Lutheran World Relief (LWR), Mars UK, Valrhona and with in-kind contributions from the Cocoa Research Centre of the University of the West Indies (CRC/UWI), Valrhona, Weiss Chocolate and CocoaTown.

This work contributes to the CGIAR Research Program on Forests for Trees and Agroforestry, supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

  • Home
  • Celebrating and rewarding excellence in producing high-quality cocoa: The 2017 International Cocoa Award winners

Celebrating and rewarding excellence in producing high-quality cocoa: The 2017 International Cocoa Award winners

Cacao pods lie on the ground after harvesting. Photo by J. Raneri/Bioversity International
Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Cacao pods lie on the ground after harvesting. Photo by J. Raneri/Bioversity International

As the only event in the world celebrating the work of producers and the richness of expression of cocoa, a unique cocoa initiative is helping to further mutual awareness and reinforce collaborations between producers and chocolate makers.

Every two years, the Cocoa of Excellence Programme spearheaded by Bioversity International and Event International recognizes the quality, flavor and diversity of cocoas according to their origin, with the participation of countries that can directly present the fruits of their labors to chocolate makers and the press.

The Cocoa of Excellence Programme is the entry point for the International Cocoa Awards (ICA). It aims to increase awareness and promote education along the cocoa supply chain on the opportunity to produce high quality cocoa and preserve flavors resulting from genetic diversity, terroir and know-how of the farmers who prepare cocoa.

Cacao diversity is also vital for production, as it provides not only different flavors, but also resistance to pests and disease outbreaks, and resilience in changing climatic conditions. Providing opportunities and incentives for safeguarding diversity to farmers and national organizations ensures that a portfolio of options remain available for future needs.

Celebrating the shortlisted entrants at the 2017 International Cocoa Awards at the Salon du Chocolat. Photo by Bioversity International

Following the selection and evaluation of 166 cocoa samples submitted from 40 countries, the wait was finally over on Oct. 30, 2017, for the 50 entrants shortlisted for the 2017 Edition of the ICA. The 18 ICA winners were celebrated at the Salon du Chocolat in Paris, shining an international spotlight on the work of cocoa farmers and cocoa diversity around the world.

“It is the highest reward for the Salon du Chocolat to be with Bioversity International at the origin of this unique program that gathered so many great and indisputable international experts in the world of cacao. Our initial wish was to create a direct link between chocolate makers and producers for reciprocal enrichment, in the qualitative aspects of chocolate and cocoa with all the benefits they entail,” said Francois Jeantet, Creator of the Salon du Chocolat.

“Today our wishes are fulfilled. A big thank you to all the team and all those that participate with passion,” he added.

“The program facilitates communication and linkages between the producers of this wonderful crop that is cocoa that delights the bean buyers and chocolate makers. This communication needs to be standardized so that all the actors along the value chain understand each other, from the farmers to the chocolate makers,” explained Brigitte Laliberté, Expert on Cacao Genetic Resources at Bioversity International.

“We are coordinating an effort on the development of international standards for the assessment of cocoa quality and flavor, for which we convened a consultation at the Salon just this morning,” Laliberté continued. “The meeting led to some very exciting group decisions and innovations in this important area.”

The Cocoa of Excellence Programme is the entry point for the International Cocoa Awards.

After a physical quality evaluation, the beans were carefully processed into liquor and untempered chocolate for blind sensory evaluation by a panel of international experts who are part of the Cocoa of Excellence Technical Committee.

Following the evaluation, the best 50 samples were selected and processed into tempered and molded chocolate (following the same recipe of 66 percent cocoa) for sensory evaluation by a broader panel of 41 chocolate professionals.

“Never before has there been such an assemblage of superb cocoas as we have had expressed as chocolates in these 2017 Edition of Cocoa of Excellence. The flavor evaluation has been both daunting as well as exhilarating. There is more outstanding flavor and diversity from more countries than ever before. The Technical Committee and the additional jury have performed superbly,” said Ed Seguine, Cacao Cocoa and Chocolate Advisors/Guittard Chocolate.

“We continue to believe that the Cocoa of Excellence as well as the International Cocoa Awards will shine the spotlight of flavors, craftsmanship and diversity on these farmers and bring real, meaningful value to them for their beans,” he added.

The 18 International Cocoa Awards for 2017 are:

Africa & the Indian Ocean

  • Ghana Simon Marfo – associated with Cocoa Abrabopa Association
  • Madagascar Mava Sa – Ferme D’ottange
  • Sierra Leone Sahr Bangura – associated with Kasiyatama
  • Tanzania Kokoa Kamili Limited

Asia, Pacific & Australia

  • Australia Australian Chocolate Pty Ltd
  • Hawaii Jeanne Bennett and Bruce Clements – Nine Fine Mynahs Estates
  • Hawaii University of Hawaii
  • India Regal plantations
  • Malaysia Teo Chun Hoon

Central America & Caribbean

  • Dominica Stewart Paris – Paris Family – associated with North East Cocoa Growers Cooperative
  • El Salvador José Eduardo Zacapa Campos
  • Guatemala Asociación Waxaquib Tzikin
  • Guatemala Mariel Ponce – Kacaou
  • Martinique Kora Bernabe and Elizabeth Pierre-Louis – associated with Valcaco – Association des Producteurs de Cacao de Martinique

South America

  • Bolivia Chocoleco
  • Brazil Emir De Macedo Gomes Filho
  • Ecuador Asociacion Quiroga
  • Peru Cooperativa Agraria APPROCAP Ltda.

Adapted from the press release originally published by Bioversity International. For more information, contact Ines Drouault at the Cocoa of Excellence Programme: i.drouault(at)cgiar.org.


The Cocoa of Excellence (CoEx) Programme is the entry point for cocoa-producers to participate in the International Cocoa Awards (ICA). The programme is coordinated by Bioversity International, and jointly organized with Event International in partnership with the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), Guittard Chocolate, Seguine Cacao, Cocoa and Chocolate, Barry Callebaut, Puratos and the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) with sponsorship from the European Cocoa Association (ECA), the Association of Chocolate, Biscuit and Confectionery Industries of Europe (Caobisco), the Federation of Cocoa Commerce (FCC), Nestlé, the Lutheran World Relief (LWR), Mars UK, Valrhona and with in-kind contributions from the Cocoa Research Centre of the University of the West Indies (CRC/UWI), Valrhona, Weiss Chocolate and CocoaTown.

This work contributes to the CGIAR Research Program on Forests for Trees and Agroforestry, supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

  • Home
  • A review of research on the effects of drought and temperature stress and increased CO2 on Theobroma cacao L., and the role of genetic diversity to address climate change

A review of research on the effects of drought and temperature stress and increased CO2 on Theobroma cacao L., and the role of genetic diversity to address climate change

Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

The global status of research on the effects of drought, temperature and elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) levels on the cacao plant, and the role of genetic diversity in producing more resilient cacao, are presented in this report. With the aim to enhance what we know about the resilience of cacao to climate change, and generate a comprehensive understanding of the questions that remain, this report highlights significant advances in published and ongoing research on drought and temperature tolerance in cacao.

Most of the information about ongoing or unpublished work was obtained from personal communications and surveys involving research institutes around the globe. Organizations were selected to participate in the survey based on their presence in the relevant literature, referrals from other organizations, or personal communications from individuals attesting to their involvement in research related to drought and temperature tolerance, or increased CO2 response, in cacao. A vast network of public and private sector partners including research institutes, producer organizations, and industry representatives around the world participated and were involved to collect additional information on unpublished and on-going research work in this area.

Over 100 scientists from 50 institutes across 29 countries participated. Additional information was gathered from personal communications, surveys carried out in collaboration with WCF and its USAID-supported Feed the Future Partnership for the Climate-Smart Cocoa Program, the Global Network for Cacao Genetic Resources (CacaoNet), the International Network for Cacao Genetic Improvement (INGENIC), the Regional Breeders Working Groups, and the research team on cacao and climate change at the University of Reading, UK. Fundamentally, the literature compiled in this report serves as a basis to understand the questions that still remain regarding cacao’s responses to abiotic stresses, highlight the resources that are available to answer them, and identify synergies and complementarities.

The report also helps to identify key research questions and partners for the development of a proposal for an international/multi-institutional research programme, to be implemented over the next three to five years, as part of the Collaborative Framework for Cacao Evaluation (CFCE). Although future climatic predictions are worrisome, the genetic materials held within national and international collections offer much potential in the development of improved planting material. The objective of the report is to gather as much information as possible, so that we can aim to maximize the resilience of cacao through the discovery and use of improved planting material, in combination with improved management practices.

The authors express gratitude to all of those who provided details of thier research on cacao genetic resources and abiotic stress and acknowledge financial support of WCF and its Feed the Future Partnership for Climate Smart Cocoa, through a grant to Bioversity International from USDA-FAS, the ECA/CAOBISCO/FCC Joint Working Group on Cocoa Quality and Productivity; and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA).

  • Home
  • Cocoa agroforestry is less resilient to sub-optimal and extreme climate than cocoa in full sun

Cocoa agroforestry is less resilient to sub-optimal and extreme climate than cocoa in full sun

Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Cocoa agroforestry is perceived as potential adaptation strategy to sub-optimal or adverse environmental conditions such as drought. We tested this strategy over wet, dry and extremely dry periods comparing cocoa in full sun with agroforestry systems: shaded by (i) a leguminous tree species, Albizia ferruginea and (ii) Antiaris toxicaria, the most common shade tree species in the region.

We monitored micro-climate, sap flux density, throughfall, and soil water content from November 2014 to March 2016 at the forest-savannah transition zone of Ghana with climate and drought events during the study period serving as proxy for projected future climatic conditions in marginal cocoa cultivation areas of West Africa. Combined transpiration of cocoa and shade trees was significantly higher than cocoa in full sun during wet and dry periods. During wet period, transpiration rate of cocoa plants shaded by A. ferruginea was significantly lower than cocoa under A. toxicaria and full sun. During the extreme drought of 2015/16, all cocoa plants under A. ferruginea died. Cocoa plants under A. toxicaria suffered 77% mortality and massive stress with significantly reduced sap flux density of 115 g cm−2 day−1, whereas cocoa in full sun maintained higher sap flux density of 170 g cm−2 day−1. Moreover, cocoa sap flux recovery after the extreme drought was significantly higher in full sun (163 g cm−2 day−1) than under A. toxicaria (37 g cm−2 day−1).

Soil water content in full sun was higher than in shaded systems suggesting that cocoa mortality in the shaded systems was linked to strong competition for soil water. The present results have major implications for cocoa cultivation under climate change. Promoting shade cocoa agroforestry as drought resilient system especially under climate change needs to be carefully reconsidered as shade tree species such as the recommended leguminous A. ferruginea constitute major risk to cocoa functioning under extended severe drought.

  • Home
  • Moving toward a sustainable cocoa sector in Ghana

Moving toward a sustainable cocoa sector in Ghana

Cacao pods are collected and heaped on the forest floor, where fermentation begins. Photo by J. Raneri/Bioversity International
Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

A farmer in Ghana prunes a Carabobo cacao tree, which is originally from Venezuela. Photo by R. Markham/Bioversity International

Ghana is the second-largest producer of cocoa in the world and in recent years has emerged as the world’s principal supplier of Fairtrade-certified cocoa — about 6% of national production falls under that scheme. Multisector collaboration is needed to address persistent challenges and to support Ghana’s overall move to a sustainable cocoa sector.

The world’s favorite treat has never been more popular. In the past decade, the chocolate industry’s demand for cocoa has increased by 12% and production has barely been able to keep pace. Growing demand, particularly from emerging economies like China and India, is good news for the industry.

At the same time, about 6 million cocoa producers — more than 90% of them smallholders — face significant challenges: low productivity, poverty in the producing communities, and limited infrastructure to connect producers with buyers. Improved and diverse planting stock that can resist pest and diseases, thrive in poor soils and grow in changing climatic conditions is in short supply.

With an annual production of about 750,000 to 1 million tons, Ghana is the second-largest producer of cocoa in the world. In recent years, Ghana has also emerged as the world’s principal supplier of Fairtrade-certified cocoa, with about 6% of national production falling under that scheme.

Yet a new report carried out for Fairtrade Africa by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and Bioversity International, supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), concludes that monetary benefits derived from Fairtrade cocoa remain low, contributing on average an additional 2% of cocoa income for certified farmers. At the same time, cooperatives use part of the Fairtrade Premium to provide their members with farming inputs and training, and to fund overall community development.

Read more: Fairtrade cocoa in Ghana: taking stock and looking ahead

Cacao pods are collected and heaped on the forest floor, where fermentation begins. Photo by J. Raneri/Bioversity International

This relates to the fact that only part of the Fairtrade Premium of US$200 per ton is channeled through the cooperatives to the producers as a cash bonus (16 to 65% of the premium), while the remainder is given as farming inputs like fertilizers, agrochemicals and planting materials (up to 38%), or allocated to fund trainings, cooperative administration, and certification fees (20 to 84%) and overall community development (up to 15%).

One way that voluntary standards like Fairtrade try to empower producers is through the creation of new business organizations such as rural cooperatives. These efforts can go hand-in-hand with those of the cocoa industry, which supports farmers in rejuvenating their aging cocoa plantations.

For the cocoa sector to become sustainable, it will also be critical to attract younger farmers to become cacao producers, empowering them to generate enough income to sustain their families and communities. Rural cooperatives can support this aim but, as the report points out, increased membership of these organizations is only sustainable if sales under Fairtrade terms grow at least at the same rate, which is currently not happening.

The report also points at the importance of diversified production systems, allowing the farmers to be less reliant on cocoa as a principal source of income. Cacao can be planted together with other crops, in particular fruit and timber trees that provide shade for the young cacao saplings and help improve nutrition and income.

Cacao pods are seen on a tree in Ghana. Photo by J. Raneri/Bioversity International

Such diversification makes for more resilient production and livelihood systems. For example, a study* of the relationship between cocoa cultivation and the conservation of biological diversity found that “cacao farms with diverse shade have the potential to support greater local diversity and act as a more effective refuge for some tropical forest organisms than alternative lowland tropical crops, particularly annual crops and cattle pasture.”

The third main finding was that Fairtrade farmers have improved access to training compared to non-members — 99% of cooperative members reported having received training on good agricultural practices, such as pruning and replanting, versus 51% of non-members.

Still, average productivity on Fairtrade-certified farms is within the range of the national average and additional efforts are needed to increase cacao productivity.

Read also: Sweeter deals: Prospects for expanding Fairtrade cocoa in Ghana

Dietmar Stoian from Bioversity International, one of the authors of the study added: “This study provides Fairtrade International, the four recently Fairtrade-certified cocoa cooperatives sampled, and other stakeholders in Ghana’s cocoa sector with a baseline for future impact assessments. The indicators developed for household- and cooperative-level measurements point at potential areas of impact and allow for continuous improvement.”

“In a follow-up study in Ghana, we are now taking a broader look at the country’s move toward a sustainable cocoa sector by identifying the actual and potential role of impact investment, social lending and other responsible finance schemes and their interactions with diverse certification systems to ensure environmental and social impact in addition to financial returns.”

The report was well received by Fairtrade International, and their management’s response concludes that: “We recognize that the coops have many support needs and we agree that key challenges include growing sales, increasing cocoa productivity, supporting agricultural diversification, and strengthening of cooperatives to be able to achieve greater member engagement and gender equality.”

As a result of this study, Fairtrade International will be reviewing the Fairtrade Premium.

Originally published on the website of Bioversity International


The report Baseline for Assessing the Impact of Fairtrade Certification on Cocoa Farmers and Cooperatives in Ghana, jointly elaborated by the World Agroforestry Centre and Bioversity International, is based on data gathered from 422 households belonging to four Fairtrade-certified cooperative unions, and 80 households from non-certified cooperatives. Data was collected based on indicators from Fairtrade’s Theory of Change and the 5Capitals methodology for assessing the poverty impacts of value chain development developed by the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), the World Agroforestry Centre and Bioversity International.

This research is part of the CGIAR Research Programs on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) and Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM) and is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors. We thank Transfair Germany and Fairtrade International for funding the project and the donors who support FTA and PIM through their contributions to the CGIAR Funds. We extend our gratitude to reviewers from Fairtrade International, the Fairtrade Foundation, Fairtrade Africa and Transfair Germany. We also appreciate the willingness of representatives of Cooperative Unions and Licensed Buying Companies COCOBOD, who generously shared their insights and experiences.

*Rice, R.A. and Greenberg, R., 2000. Cacao cultivation and the conservation of biological diversity. AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment 29 (3): 167-173.

  • Home
  • Baseline for assessing the impact of fairtrade certification on cocoa farmers and cooperatives in Ghana

Baseline for assessing the impact of fairtrade certification on cocoa farmers and cooperatives in Ghana

Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Côte d’ Ivoire and Ghana, the two biggest Fairtrade cocoa producers in West Africa, provide about 68 percent of the Fairtrade cocoa that is sold under Fairtrade terms in global markets. In 2013, the volume of Fairtrade cocoa from West Africa reached 133 400 t, involving some 71 cooperatives and producer associations and 138 800 farmers. Most Fairtrade cocoa from West Africa originates from Côte d’Ivoire (CDI) and Ghana, the latter being the subject of this report.

Fairtrade cocoa in Ghana has expanded rapidly in recent years: between 2009 and 2014, sales increased from 481 to 54 600 tonnes, while the number of Fairtrade cooperative unions grew from only one in 2009 to 11 in 2014. The expanding Fairtrade cocoa sector in Ghana faces many of the same challenges as the West African cocoa sector as a whole, including low productivity and poverty in farming communities, limited infrastructure, a rapidly aging farming population, lack of electricity and portable water, and few examples of strong rural cooperatives or other forms of smallholder business organizations.

In this context, important questions arise, such as: What are the capacities and the potential of cooperatives and resource-poor farmers to benefit from participation in Fairtrade certification? How can Fairtrade and partners help address the constraints and opportunities faced by cocoa growers, cooperatives and other players in the cocoa chain?

  • Home
  • Fairtrade cocoa in Ghana: taking stock and looking ahead

Fairtrade cocoa in Ghana: taking stock and looking ahead

Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Overview

Some of the global chocolate industry’s biggest players, such as Ferrero, Mars, and Hershey, have expressed their commitment to achieve a sustainable cocoa sector by the year 2020.

As the world’s second largest producer of cocoa, Ghana is also interested in moving towards sustainable cocoa production. Voluntary standards systems, such as Fairtrade, play an important role in providing independent third-party evidence of progress towards sustainability. Fairtrade does so by offering a framework for producers and buyers to engage in more equitable business relations, with reduced price risks for farmers and opportunities for cooperative and community development through investments enabled by the Fairtrade premium.

Over the past years, Fairtrade has significantly advanced in Ghana’s cocoa sector. Between 2009 and 2014, annual volumes of Fairtrade cocoa produced in the country increased from 481 MT to 54,600 MT. This impressive growth is linked to the evolution of Kuapa Kokoo as leading cocoa cooperative, and to the creation of numerous new cooperatives that obtained Fairtrade certification over the past few years. Founded in 1993 and Fairtrade certified since 1995, Kuapa Kokoo has grown into the world’s largest Fairtrade certified cocoa cooperative.

Journal article published in Sweet Vision, Vol. 61 (3), p. 14-17.


Back to top

Sign up to our monthly newsletter

Connect with us

X