Yield Improvement Key To Lifting Cocoa Farmers Out Of Poverty

Cocoa pods and ground chocolate poweder

Zurich, Switzerland — Even with industry investments in sustainability projects, most Ivory Coast cocoa farmers continue to live below the poverty line, according to a study from the French Development Agency (AFD) and Barry Callebaut AG.

Bruno Leclerc, AFD country manager in Ivory Coast, says: “Data and statistics on cocoa farmers’ well-being, yields, access to finance, disease and agricultural practices are scarce, which is a serious constraint to the efficient design and implementation of programs and actions for better cocoa sustainability.”

The AFD estimates that the average cocoa farmer earns roughly 569 West Africa Francs per day (about 90 cents). This is largely a result of low cocoa yields, with average output around 435 kilograms per hectare, Callebaut reports. Aging trees, plant disease and failure to adopt better agriculture practices are largely responsible for hampering yields.

“The results of this study show that Barry Callebaut’s approach to lifting cocoa farmers out of poverty by focusing on yield improvements is the right approach,” says Nicko Debenham, the supplier’s head of sustainability. “Nevertheless, it also underlines the size of the challenge and the necessity to work with governments to create the right socioeconomic infrastructure, and access to finance and inputs.”

This commitment to address poverty in the supply chain is at the heart of Callebaut’s recently launched Forever Chocolate sustainability program, which aims to lift more than 500,000 cocoa farmers out of poverty by 2025.