Green Innovation Centres for the Agriculture and Food Sector (GIC) in Côte d’Ivoire

Project description

Title: Green Innovation Centres for the Agriculture and Food Sector (GIC) in Côte d’Ivoire
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Côte d’Ivoire
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Rural Development and Agriculture of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire 
Overall term: 2018 to 2026

Open cocoa pod. The pod is hollowed out, the pulp and beans are used for fermentation. The pods can be composted.


The cocoa sector is one of the most important social and economic pillars of Côte d’Ivoire. In 2015, the sector contributed 15.3 per cent to Côte d’Ivoire’s gross domestic product (GDP) and represented approximately 37 per cent of all exports. Cocoa farming also provides employment for around a third of the population, whose livelihoods fully depend on these revenues.

Despite the cocoa sector’s vital importance for the country, cocoa production systems in Côte d’Ivoire remain largely incompatible with the requirements necessary for environmental protection, preservation of biodiversity and the socio-economic devel-opment of cocoa producers. 

Today, half of the country’s cocoa producers still live below the poverty line. Among others, productivity, unsustainable farming practices, the lack of diversification and the volatility of international cocoa prices are some of the reasons that explain the low level of household income. The lack of local markets as well as the low development of value-adding activities, such as the processing of cocoa and its by-products, also contribute to these structural challenges.

Beside this, Côte d’Ivoire’s cocoa farmers must also cope with the effects of climate change on their production, a phenomenon that intensified through the loss of large forest areas over the last years. More than half of the initial 8 million hectares (ha) of rainforest have been lost to cocoa production on cleared fertile forest soil.

Innovations that support sustainable cocoa production, create more locally added value, increase producers’ incomes, whilst protecting the forest cover, do exist and are promoted by the authorities. However, they are often not available or accessible in rural areas.

Cocoa pods grow directly on the tree trunk, here a pod grows in a cocoa plantation in the south-east of the country

To address these challenges, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) initiated the Green Innovation Centre (GIC) in the Agriculture and Food Sector in Côte d’Ivoire. The GIC has the objective to promote innova-tions that will sustainably increase income, diversification, employment and productivity of small-scale cocoa producing families and augment small and medium enterprises in the cocoa value chain.

The GIC in in Côte d’Ivoire is implemented in cooperation with the Coffee and Cocoa Council (CCC). 


Innovation in the food and agriculture sector in selected rural areas of Côte d’Ivoire have contributed to a sustainable rural development.


As one of 15 country packages of the global GIC programme the project works with small-scale cocoa farms and their organisations as well as with Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises upstream and downstream of the promoted value-added chains in the South-East and South-West Region of Côte d’Ivoire. The project seeks to identify and scale up innovations and promotes them by supporting an enabling environment that will ensure sustainable agribusiness in the cocoa sector. To achieve this the project implements activities within five strategic and complementary areas:

  • Sustainable cocoa production without deforestation
    GIC promotes reforestation and deforestation-free supply chains through local partnerships in the targeted regions. It also supports efforts towards a sustainable and verified cocoa production by helping to develop a national traceability system for cocoa products – from the cocoa tree to the chocolate bar. By teaming up with international partners like the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and the Centre for international cooperation and agricultural research for development (CIRAD) the project promotes good agricultural practices for better adaptation to climate change, e.g. through the introduction of agroforestry systems. 
  • Diversification in cocoa production systems
    To reduce the dependency of cocoa farmers on the fluctuating market, GIC promotes innovations in the cultivation of complementary foodstuffs. This strengthens farmer’s resilience when dealing with crop failures or falling cocoa prices and provides them with additional income. The two primary foodstuffs targeted by the project are manioc and plantain banana.
  • Local processing and marketing of cocoa products
    To retain more added value in the country, the project supports a Business Incubator, which develops new cocoa products and opens new markets. In the future, a pilot centre will offer training and further education for all stages of processing. The project also promotes small-scale processing units to increase cocoa processing activities and diversify cocoa products in the country, create employment and increase revenues from cocoa.
  • Promotion of sectoral innovations 
    To strengthen the enabling environment necessary for the creation and adoption of innovations that will lead to sustainable improvements for the sector the project supports the Coffee and Cocoa Council (CCC) as well as existing initiatives working to-wards a sustainable cocoa sector. For example, the project cooperates with the Cocoa and Forest Initiative (CFI), implemented by the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF). 
  • International dialogue for sustainable cocoa 
    With an implementation team in Germany, this area of the project promotes international networking as well as south-south and north-south exchange among cocoa producing countries on best practices, knowledge sharing and international cooperation.

Additional information