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New market opportunities for smallholder farmers in the coffee and cocoa sectors "Emprende"

A large percentage of the Ecuadoran rural population lives in poverty and comprises mostly smallholder farmers. Their coffee and cocoa harvests are often very low. Soil fertility is decreasing and there are no opportunities for irrigation. Therefore, their products are often not competitive on global markets. However, Ecuador is a highly regarded country of origin for cocoa and coffee with enormous potential for growth in high-value agricultural products.

The Project

EMPRENDE is a project working to promote inclusive value chains and support smallholder farmer families. The project focuses on issues of productivity in cocoa and coffee planting. In addition, the project links smallholder farmers and their cooperatives with suppliers of vital inputs (e.g. fertilizers) and buyers. The project provides advisory services to help farmers with business management and access to finance.

Objectives 2017-2019


  • 2,100 coffee farmers and 3,150 cocoa farmers will have completed technical training.
  • 18 farmer cooperatives trained in business management.


  • 60% of trained farmers will have increased their incomes significantly, thereby improving quality of life for their families.
  • Productivity will have improved tangibly.
  • Beneficiary farmer cooperatives will enjoy long-term and lucrative sales contracts.
  • Availability of and access to specialised financial services will have improved.

Project activities

  1. Training in planting methods, improved irrigation, application of crop protection, fertilizers, seed, and environmentally-friendly production methods
  2. Trainings in cocoa and coffee processing as well as in marketing and customer relations
  3. Training farmer collectives in marketing and building business relations. Simultaneously, these groups will be strengthened in their management capacities including bookkeeping, administration, and controlling.
  4. Collaboration with credit cooperatives so that they provide financial services that respond to the needs of smallholder farmers


Results 2017

  • In 2017 a total of 4 985 coffee farmers and 2 075 cocoa farmers directly benefited from one of the different project interventions. Thereby the project significantly outperformed its annual targets.
  • To improve the farmers’ productivity fertilizer kits tailored to the life cycle of coffee and cocoa plants were developed with local companies and a good solution was found to distribute the kits to rural areas. 300 farmers accessed a specific credit to buy the fertilizer kits.
  • To improve the quality of their products the project supported coffee farmers in getting access to public funding for 1500 drying facilities.
  • Whilst cocoa farmer’s harvest was delayed by a cold wave, 4 umbrella associations were supported to improve their marketing, client relationship and management processes.

Project progress 2013-2016

  • More than 4,500 smallholder farmer families have benefited from advanced training in improving quality and yields of their cocoa and coffee production. Through this they were able to increase net incomes by 60% while quality of life improved for 11,000 family members.
  • 58 farmer collectives have received support to improve their production infrastructure and product quality, as well as to professionalise their administrative processes. 70% of these cooperatives concluded long-term purchasing agreements with buyers.
  • Three credit mechanisms were developed with credit cooperatives that respond to the needs of coffee and cocoa farmers. In 2016, more than 12 million Swiss francs were allocated in loans.

Project partner

  • Esperanza
  • Nestlé

Project countries

  • Ecuador

Project duration

2017 - 2020


  • SDC

Working area


Swiss Foundation for Technical Cooperation
Hardturmstrasse 123
CH-8005 Zurich

Tel. +41 44 454 17 17
Fax +41 44 454 17 97
E-Mail info@STOP-SPAM.swisscontact.org