Value Chain 

Transforming Cocoa Farming into a Sustainable Business for Smallholder Farmers

Cocoa – a Swisscontact Focus since 2004

For more than a decade, Swisscontact has supported and promoted large numbers of smallholder cocoa farmers to transform their operations into viable and sustainable cocoa production businesses and overcome poverty. Swisscontact strongly believes in developing sustainable cocoa value chains, which benefit not only farmers but also the broader rural community and nature/natural ecosystems.

Swisscontact has focused on the cocoa sector to increase the income levels of smallholder farmers and workers living below the poverty line. Given the global market demand projections, there are real opportunities for farmers to increase their revenues from cocoa production.

Swisscontact helps unlock these opportunities by supporting farmers to upgrade their production practices, enhancing the quality of their products, strengthening their organisational capacities, improving their positioning within the value chain and facilitating access to affordable services and inputs. A key element of success lies in the efficient and cost-effective cooperation between industry, governments, civil society organisations and donors. As a partner and supporter of several cocoa organisations, the International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO), the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), and the Swiss Platform for Sustainable Cocoa: 

  • Long-term structural developments in supply chain management;
  • Strengthening the position of cocoa farmers, with a view to improving their livelihoods and resilience;
  • New business models and best practices to encourage sustainable cocoa production and trade;
  • Elaboration of modalities and frameworks for market access and promotion;
  • Sharing experience and lessons learnt;
  • Bridging the cultural gap between producers and industry partners.


Swisscontact's Portfolio

Cocoa – a Pivotal Cash Crop for Millions of Smallholder Farmers with many challenges
With an estimated annual turnover of US $12 billion, the cocoa sector is an important source of income for millions of farmers across Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania. Chocolate consumers worldwide are dependent on smallholder farming production in developing countries.
Opportunities Borne from a Growing Global Appetite for Chocolate
Worldwide demand for cocoa has been rising 2% to 3% annually, and that trend is expected to continue into the foreseeable future. Chocolate manufacturers and semi-processors have a vested interest in making cocoa cultivation profitable for smallholder farmers to ensure that their demand is met in years to come. This is a unique opportunity for development cooperation in collaboration with private partners. 
Key Working Areas – Swisscontact’s Methodological Footprint
Swisscontact programmes use an integrated markets approach, considering economic, social and environmental dimensions, to improve cocoa sector competitiveness. 
How can traceability and transparency contribute to the sustainable development goals: a selection of minicases from different private sector companies and from organisations.

Environmental Responsibility and Climate Change

Unsustainable cocoa farming practices and monocultures have led to harmful impacts on ecosystems and are accompanied by challenges such as aging plantations and productivity losses. As a result, farmers face loss of income and degradation of the ecosystems that provide their livelihoods. In addition, monoculture production makes farmers highly vulnerable to shocks such as price fluctuations and weather events. Unpredictable weather patterns, shorter growing seasons, droughts, extreme temperatures and increased vulnerability to pests and plant diseases due to climate change pose increasing risks to smallholder farmers around the world.

To address these challenges, Swisscontact promotes environmentally responsible and climate-friendly practices to conserve or restore ecosystems, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen smallholder farmers' adaptive capacity to climate change.

Conservation and regeneration of ecosystems:

  • Training on good agricultural practices (GAP) with strong focus on sustainable and climate-mart production techniques including improved soil and shade management, rehabilitation and replanting techniques, and integrated pest and disease management.
  • Build capacity of farmers on integrated farm management, taking into consideration the entire production system.[CG1] 
  • Increase resource use efficiency and prevent food losses through improved post-harvest handling and storage.
  • Support cocoa farms to meet quality and sustainability standards for certification.
  • Introduce eco-friendly technologies such as solar dryers.

Climate Change Adaptation:

  • Training on good agricultural practices (GAP) focusing on the conservation and regeneration of the soil as well as nutrient and water cycle management strengthens the self-regeneration capacity of ecosystems making them more resilient to hazardous events and climate change.
  • Introduce resilient varieties which are less vulnerable to climate change.
  • Effective and integrated pest management methods are important as an increase in pest infestation is expected due to climate change.
  • Enhance resilience and adaptive capacities of smallholder families through additional measures such as strengthening household financial management, access to finance and cultivation of food crops to improve food security and nutrition.

Climate Change Mitigation:

  • Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through improved soil management which increases the carbon retention capacity of soil.
  • Efficient use of fertilizer and substitution of chemical fertilisers by organic fertilisers.
  • Planting of shade trees or additional tree crops and providing training on agroforestry practices.

Selection of our experiences

Sustainable agriculture, Trade
Sustainable Cocoa Production Programme
Over the course of ten years, the Sustainable Cocoa Production Program (SCPP) has grown into an initiative reaching 165,000 farmers and engaging the entire cocoa industry in Indonesia. The legacy of SCPP spans a spectrum of areas, such as productivity increase, poverty reduction and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions-at a time of significant upheaval in the cocoa sector in Indonesia.  
Most producers in the Departments of El Paraíso, Valle and Choluteca do not manage to make their businesses successful, due principally to exploitation, inadequate harvesting practices and poor knowledge of the market. Fino de aroma cocoa is an alternative crop for coffee growers in El Paraiso, where 51,200 hectares of coffee plantations supply...