Professionalising cocoa production: supporting smallholders and strengthening their farmer organisations

Project description

Project title: Professionalising cocoa producers and their organisations in sustainable cocoa production (PRO-PLANTEURS II)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa, Conseil du Café-Cacao
Country: Côte d’Ivoire
Lead executing agency: Ministère de l'Agriculture et du Développement Rural (MINADER)
Overall term: 2015 bis 2025



Cocoa production plays an important role in Côte d’Ivoire’s economy and society. Even though accounting for a share of up to 40 per cent of the country's export value, the sector remains underdeveloped.
About one million smallholders in Côte d'Ivoire produce cocoa in mostly small plots. The average yields are far below the amounts that could be achieved with tried and tested farming practices. Inappropriate production methods, crop diseases and ageing cocoa trees cause production losses and low yields.
Many farmers are not members of organisations, and the existing cooperatives often lack professional management. This impedes access to financing options and results in the organisations being unable to provide sufficient support to their members.


The cocoa producers’ organisations operate professionally. The farmers’ business management and production systems are improved. Farming families reduce the gap to a Living Income, and their food situation has improved.



In order to improve the lives of cocoa-producing families and to increase their income towards a level that would secure their Living Income, the PRO-PLANTEURS project supports cocoa producers’ organisations and their members. A special focus is given to women and young farmers.

PRO-PLANTEURS is a joint project by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa and the Ivorian Conseil du Café-Cacao (Coffee and Cocoa Council). The German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa is a joint initiative of the German Government, represented by BMZ and BMEL, the German sweets and confectionery industry, the German retail grocery trade and civil society organisations. The project works with farmer organisations and their 30,000 members in five regions in the center, east and south of Côte d'Ivoire:

Strengthening cocoa farmers’ organisations
PRO-PLANTEURS supports selected cocoa farmers’ organisations through training programmes and supplementary advisory services in order to improve their internal organisation.

Optimising agricultural enterprises
The project trains cocoa farmers in the approach Farmer Business School. Here, they learn to plan production more effectively and to analyse the costs and benefits of improved cultivation techniques. They also learn how to improve their yields with targeted investments and how to increase their income and become more resilient by diversifying the production system. To promote diversification, training sessions on good agricultural practices (GAPs) for other crops are offered. Another key area involves promoting a balanced diet.

Strengthening cooperation in the value chain
PRO-PLANTEURS uses a Matching Fund to co-finance projects proposed by members of the German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa and implemented jointly with PRO-PLANTEURS.

Promoting joint learning and innovation
The project fosters dialogue among project partners and target groups and disseminates best practices and success stories.



To date, the project has trained 140 managers of 35 cooperatives in the professional management of their farmer organisations. As a result, their access to financing has improved. While in 2018 already seven farmer organisations received loans from financial institutions, this figure increased to 16 in 2019.

A total of 13,000 people took part in the training Farmer Business School to professionalise their business management. This has resulted in better application of GAP and has thus enhanced cocoa farming productivity. In order to diversify sources of agricultural income, 18,000 farmers, of whom 4,000 were women, completed training on GAPs for various types of vegetable and livestock farming. Over half of the households receiving support now generate a yield of at least 500 kilograms of cocoa per hectare.

Seventy-six rural nutritionists were trained; in turn, they have raised awareness among 23,000 people about good nutritional practices to achieve a balanced diet.

To promote communication among all participants, the project has already organised three national and 17 regional workshops. These provide project partners and target groups with an opportunity to engage in dialogue on the project status, current topics and challenges.

Last update: February 2021