Professionalising cocoa producers and their organisations
Project title: Professionalising cocoa producers and their organisations in sustainable cocoa production (PRO-PLANTEURS)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa (GISCO)
Country: Côte d’Ivoire
Lead executing agency: Ministère de l'Agriculture et du Développement Rural (MINADER)
Overall term: 2015 bis 2020
Cocoa production plays an important role in both the economy and society of Côte d’Ivoire. However, despite its central importance, the sector is insufficiently developed. In Côte d’Ivoire, cocoa is grown by at least 800,000 smallholders, usually on around three hectares of land. According to a study conducted by the PRO-PLANTEURS project in the eastern and south-eastern parts of the country, their average yields are roughly 340 kilograms per hectare and fall far short of the potential offered by currently recommended farming practices. Inappropriate production methods, plant diseases and parasitic infection as well as ageing cocoa trees on the plantations lead to production losses and low yields. These poor farming practices also result in considerable variation in the quality of cocoa beans, which can be inadequate for international companies. In addition, many farmers are not organised and many of the existing cooperatives require professionalisation. This makes it more difficult for them to access finance and puts them in a weak position in relation to cocoa bean buyers. They also cannot offer their members sufficient support.
To address this situation and improve the living conditions of the cocoa-producing families, the PRO-PLANTEURS project provides comprehensive support for cocoa cooperatives and their members. Special consideration is given to women and young farmers.
The cocoa farmer organisations work professionally. Cocoa farmers have access to agricultural training and professional development, attractive services and agricultural inputs. Farming practices for cocoa beans have improved and agricultural products can be better marketed. Farmers’ families earn higher incomes. Their nutritional situation has improved.
PRO-PLANTEURS is a joint project of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa (GISCO) and the Ivorian Conseil du Café-Cacao. GISCO is an alliance of the German confectionery industry, the German retail grocery trade and civil society organisations with the German Government, represented by BMEL and BMZ. The Ivorian Conseil du Café-Cacao covers one third of the project costs.
The project works with selected farmer organisations which have 20,000 members in three regions of Côte d’Ivoire. Its activities are divided into four priority areas:
Strengthening cocoa cooperatives
PRO-PLANTEURS supports certain cocoa cooperatives through training and coaching aimed at improving their internal organisation. This includes planning and control instruments such as business plans, production plans and banking books. Women are encouraged to take on more responsibility within the farmer organisations.
Sustainable cocoa production
The project supports the cocoa farmers through training in good agricultural practices. Farmer Business Schools provide cocoa farmers with instruction on topics including better production planning, the costs and benefits associated with improved cultivation techniques and how to use targeted investment to increase their yields and income.
Diversification of incomes and improved nutrition
PRO-PLANTEURS also promotes the improvement of income that is not generated by cocoa production. The families’ income is also to rise through increased production of plant and animal products other than cocoa. Project activities will also focus on improved nutrition and year-round food security.
Promoting joint learning
The project fosters dialogue among the project partners and target groups and disseminates best practices and success stories.
By the end of 2018, the managers of 18 cocoa cooperatives had been trained to manage their organisations professionally. From July 2019, a further 17 cooperatives were trained. The training is conducted in four training blocks while each cooperative is supported over 12 months using operation monitoring and coaching.
To sustainably increase productivity and improve cocoa bean quality, 5,000 cocoa farmers were trained in good agricultural practices. Up to now, 4,000 people have participated in the training Farmer Business School aimed at professionalising the management of rural households. In addition, nine service units with a minimum of 250 young people are trained as service providers in cocoa production, for example, in the handling of diseased plants.
Specific training materials were created to increase the scope of different agricultural income sources and nutrition. Together with the National Ivorian Programme for Nutrition (PNN), 76 rural nutritionists were trained who have already made 16,000 families in their cooperatives aware of good nutritional practices for a balanced diet. Women receive targeted support through a further activity, which aims to help them generate additional, regular income. For example, in 16 projects, a total of 2,100 women in women’s groups farm fish, produce eggs, grow cassava or other plants and also complete a training programme on agricultural practices and management.
The project organises national and regional workshops to foster dialogue between all participants. The competitiveness of cocoa cooperatives was one of the topics focused on in 2017. In September 2019, the PRO-PLANTEURS Day was held for the second time. At the event, project partners and target groups had the opportunity to discuss the latest news about the project and exchange ideas on the current issues and challenges.