Sustainable Smallholder Agribusiness in Western and Central Africa (completed)

Project description

Title: Sustainable Smallholder Agribusiness
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Togo
Lead executing agency: Ghana: Cocoa Board; Côte d’Ivoire: Ministère de l’Agriculture et du Développement Rural; Nigeria: Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning; Cameroon: Ministère de l’Economie, de la Planification et de l’Aménagement du Territoire; Togo: Ministère de l’Agriculture, de l’Elevage et de l'Hydraulique
Overall term: 2014 to 2019


Cocoa is an important export product and a source of foreign currency in Western and Central Africa. This region has a cultivated area of five million hectares and accounts for over 70 per cent of worldwide cocoa production. Cocoa is mainly grown by smallholders on plots of land of up to three hectares in size. It is the most important source of income for them and their families, while additional income is earned from food production. However, yields are low and the families of those who work in cocoa cultivation live below the poverty line. Many cocoa growers lack the financial resources, technical knowledge and entrepreneurial skills to use modern technologies and take advantage of expanding agricultural markets to boost their income. Heavy dependence on cocoa as a source of income coupled with widely fluctuating prices on the world market lead to impoverishment, malnutrition and social problems such as child labour.


In Western and Central Africa, 475,000 smallholders have sustainably improved their income and food supply from more diversified agricultural cultivation.


The project is working with 50 public and private partners in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo. In Farmer Business School (FBS) training, farmers learn how they can improve their planning of cocoa and food production and increase yields and incomes by investing in improved cultivation techniques. Farmers also benefit from advice on good cultivation practice and digital media. The Cooperative Business School (CBS) approach builds on the concept behind the FBS training.

Agricultural trading companies, microfinance institutions and producer organisations operate business service centres (BSCs), which give farmers technical advice, supply them with fertilisers, seeds and pesticides, provide market information, and support farmers in matters relating to loans and insurance. The main focal areas include food production in line with good agricultural practices, and healthy diets.

After completing their training at the FBS, young people start work with the business service centres, offering services such as land surveying and tree cutting, which reduces the need for crop protection agents. In this way, people with qualifications find work and can generate income.

The project supports its partners in consolidating and independently developing their approaches. Since 2017, the FBS has also been providing advice to interested programmes, companies and organisations in Africa on adapting and implementing the approaches that have been tried out.


The project has cooperated with local partners to develop the FBS training programme to strengthen farmers’ entrepreneurial skills. So far 700 specially trained instructors and supervisors have provided training to 482,000 farmers, a third of whom are women. In addition, the project has supported 22 partners with the introduction of the FBS into 19 countries in Africa. In total, the project has trained over 1.1 million farmers as a result.

The extension services include 40 training topics on good cultivation practices for cocoa and food products. These topics have been taught to 190,000 smallholders, 30 per cent of whom are women. In total 2,000 managers and members of 400 producer associations have taken part in CBS training courses and learned how to transparently plan and implement services for their members and thus to strengthen their market power. Furthermore, 42 service centres have supplied services to 153,000 customers and 250 young employees of these centres have provided services for over 24,000 hectares of cultivated land.

Farmers who have received training have almost doubled their cocoa yields in Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon. Yields of cassava have increased by 63 per cent to 9.7 tonnes per hectare and yields of maize have risen by 103 per cent to 2 tonnes per hectare. In response to market potentials farmers have also diversified in response to market potentials into areas such as cassava processing, cultivation of vegetables and plantains, poultry farming, snail farming and fish farming. It is estimated that over 285,000 informal full-time jobs have been created due to the increased amount of work.

Half of all FBS-trained agricultural workers have opened savings accounts. As a result, over half of these people have been able to obtain agricultural loans for cocoa or food production. Forty-five per cent of the 16,600 groups who have been trained have registered producer organisations. In Nigeria, six umbrella organisations for the states of Abia, Cross River, Edo, Ekiti, Ondo and Osun have thus been created with over 800 member organisations. With their increased negotiating power, they have been able to secure better prices for their members.

In 2017, per capita income increased on average by eight per cent to 1.69 US-dollars in real terms, despite low cocoa prices. Farmers who received training have been able to increase their income from food production from the level of 668 US dollars in Togo to up to 3,581 US dollars in Nigeria.

Additional information