Roughly 70% of the world’s cocoa is produced in West Africa, with the remaining 30% coming from South-East Asia, and Central and South America. The crop is grown on relatively small acreages and contributes massively to rural incomes, national incomes and livelihoods. Unfortunately however, cocoa’s full potential to transform the economies of these countries has not been fully exploited.
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farmers and workers trained to adopt good practices


multi-stakeholder platforms, networks, or dialogues convened or participated in


hectares under sustainable management


Rising demand, strains on land

The global demand for cocoa is rising. Yet the majority of the world’s cocoa producers are stuck in a cycle of poverty, unable to meet personal needs nor demand. While a lack of access to inputs and knowledge on good farming practices continues to strain the land.

Smallholders produce 95% of all cocoa, usually on plots of 1-3 hectares. Yet these smallholders and producer organizations cannot easily access training, inputs, markets, or financing. This leads to either a complete lack of inputs, or a misuse of the inputs that are obtained. This results in low, poor quality yields.

Although it’s not uncommon for women who head households in West Africa and Latin America to grow cocoa, they’re often left out of farmer cooperatives and organizations. This can have a negative impact on yields, families and communities.

Forests are cleared to make room for cocoa farms, reducing the biodiversity of the very ecosystems on which farms depend. A reduction in biodiversity lowers the amount of nutrients in the soil, which in turn reduces yields. The result of this is usually further deforestation to gain access to more fertile soil.

“When I started as a producer I didn’t have much training. I only grew my crops, but I didn’t know how to deal directly with the crops. Since Solidaridad came up with his project I have learned a lot.”

Francisco Cruz, cocoa farmer, Tuerê, Brazil


Market transformation

We believe in a market transformation approach that works simultaneously with farmers, markets, consumers and governments – where one cannot make progress without the other. We bring all supply chain actors together to secure the future of cocoa farming.

Farmers with knowledge and skills – and access to credit and fertilizer – are three times as productive. This is not only beneficial for farmers – it means that companies can rely on a steady supply of good cocoa. High yielding cocoa production systems enhance ecosystem services and improve local food security.

Companies and governments are an integral part of a sustainable cocoa industry. They assist in increasing access, availability and affordability of inputs, knowledge and credit for sustainable cocoa. Thanks to public-private cooperation, about 20% of West Africa’s 2.5 million cocoa farmers now receive training and access to support.

We support the production of special cocoa beans and access to trade in fine chocolates. The premium bean-to-bar market pays up to four times more for cocoa beans. In Brazil, we supported producers to start supplying cocoa beans to Casa Lasevicius, a maker of artisanal chocolate in São Paulo. This is a great opportunity for producers to increase their income and contribute to the social development of their communities.

“I am a member of the cooperative and learned in training programmes. As a result, my yields are high, I have more income and I’m teaching other farmers now.”

Enan Abblé, cocoa farmer, Kragui, Côte d’Ivoire


Cocoa agroforestry systems

In Brazil, we worked with 549 new hectares of cocoa agroforestry systems and replicated the model in Peru. We expanded access to the ACORN platform for cocoa farmers in Colombia, with 7,053 registered producers, and Nicaragua, with 1,217 producers managing 1,962 hectares using agroforestry systems.

WAF Cocoa Result 2023

strengthening local cooperatives

In Pará, Brazil, we supported 1,114 new families, implemented 215 new hectares of cocoa agroforestry systems, and were awarded a blended finance project by the Brazilian Development Bank for increasing producers’ ability to afford technical assistance. The local cooperative we strengthened Coopercau, now serves around 50 producing families who pay for this service.

South America Cocoa

Adding value

In 2021, we trained 8,035 cocoa farmers in West Africa in good agricultural practices and improved farm management and diversification approaches to enhance productivity. Additionally, 641,358 cocoa seedlings were raised, out of which 638,318 covering 982 hectares were distributed to 928 farmers for planting to improve their livelihoods. To promote value addition in the Liberian cocoa sector, Solidaridad integrated the Women Agri-Vocational and Entrepreneurship concept into its programme with 45 rural women’s groups, adding value to their cocoa beans production.

Achieving results

Solidaridad reached 58,491 cocoa farmers in West Africa with good agricultural practices and crop diversification approaches for income and livelihoods resilience. Additionally, old and unproductive cocoa farms were rehabilitated using high-yielding hybrid seedlings integrated with shade trees for ecosystem enhancement.

In Nicaragua, we modeled best practices for producers and promoters in demonstration plots and field schools. Cocoa farmers leveraged newly certified (Rainforest Alliance) cooperatives —where sales increased by 118 percent in 2020— to market their production. Meanwhile, cocoa-farming families in South America received technical assistance (TA) to adopt low-carbon agriculture, improving their cocoa productivity by 35 percent and their gross income by 51 percent.

Bean-to-bar success

In 2019, through our bean-to-bar partnership with Case Lasevicius, three tonness of the cocoa were sold at an average price of 25 Brazilian reals (5 euros) per kg, generating a gross income of 75,000 reals (15,000 euros) for eight producers in the project. In Nicaragua, Solidaridad worked with BICU University to develop the first agroforestry cocoa diploma, giving priority participation to women and youth, while n Honduras, members of the national network of women in cocoa and chocolate learned to process and market cocoa products, leading to the launch of several women-led enterprises.

In West Africa, we helped establish the first roundtable to secure favourable land tenure arrangements for cocoa farmers in Ghana, and supported 1,600 youth to establish 789 hectares of cocoa farms. Through Ghana’s COCOBOD, lessons were shared with rural service centres to drive service delivery by small and growing businesses, and in Liberia and Sierra Leone, we contributed to national cocoa platforms as well as policy and regulatory arrangements for the sector.

Improving productivity

Across our cocoa programmes, we helped improve farmer-level productivity. For example, in Liberia, farmers planted 382,000 hybrid cocoa seedlings on newly established farms translating to 45,000 hectares of land. In Cote d’Ivoire, we supported the set up of 393 Village Savings and Loans Associations with a membership of 8,150 (94% women). The aim is to empower women, develop a savings culture and facilitate access to affordable finance for women cocoa farmers in Cote d’Ivoire.

Making strides

Solidaridad took significant steps for the cocoa sector in 2017, especially in West Africa. It engaged public and private organizations to secure co-funding to upscale activities, enable new businesses and enhance environmental governance. Solidaridad also designed a climate-smart business case for cocoa producers and enhanced multi-stakeholder platforms in order to promote landscape governance and influence public and private policies to reduce deforestation.

Women & youth take center stage

Solidaridad focused on supporting innovations that placed women and youth at the heart of business development. Programmes included giving tailor-made entrepreneurship and life-skills training, modeling viable business opportunities to prove profitability and making the case for impact investment. Activities were aimed at supporting the development of a thriving professionalized cocoa sector for the future. Solidaridad took concrete steps to support climate-smart cocoa production through the development and testing of low carbon balance tools.

Engaging youth

Solidaridad aims to address the problem of low youth participation in the cocoa supply chain by combining business and life skills training for young entrepreneurs so they can maintain thriving cocoa farms and businesses.

Certification is not enough

For the Love of Chocolate, a multimedia exhibition in The National Maritime Museum Amsterdam, attracted 35,000 visitors and major attention from the press. Nico Roozen spoke at the World Cocoa Conference 2014 and shared the message that certification alone is not enough.

What is the impact?

The ‘For the Love of Chocolate’ documentary with the National Geographic Channel boosted awareness of Solidaridad’s cocoa programme. 

Solidaridad and Cargill commissioned external impact assessments in Ghana and Ivory Coast. An external impact assessment by KPMG indicated the following results from the start of the CIP programme: 151,000 farmers trained and certified, producing over 414,000 tonnes of certified cocoa, and sharp increase of both public and private investments in cocoa.

Holistic programming

Together with the Dutch Embassy in Ghana, Solidaridad West Africa and partners developed the ‘Cocoa Rehabilitation and Intensification Programme (CORIP) – Ghana’. Privately run Rural Service Centres (RSCs) will be set up providing training, information, inputs and other technical support for improved cocoa production.

Climbing investments

Solidaridad cocoa programme investments climbed to 3.5 million EUR.

Facing setbacks

Post-election civil war in Ivory Coast posed a major setback for the cocoa sector and the Solidaridad cocoa programme. In Ghana and Nigeria, Solidaridad organized national stakeholder forums including farmers, business, and government representatives.   

For the love of chocolate

‘For the Love of Chocolate’ campaign with Mars Nederland began. Annual programme investments exceeded 1 million EUR, Solidaridad’s Farmer Support Programme reached 40,000 farmers; and Solidaridad also set up training teams in Nigeria, Cameroon, Ecuador, and Brazil.

Big announcements

The Dutch Minister of Development Cooperation welcomed the first UTZ Certified cocoa at the Amsterdam cocoa harbour. Mars was the first big company to announce their intention to use 100% certified cocoa by 2020.

Scaling up

Solidaridad’s joint Cocoa Improvement Program (CIP) 2008-2012 began to scale up the production of sustainable cocoa in Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Cameroon, Brasil, Peru, Indonesia and Vietnam and Peru. Private sector partners, amongst others, included: Cargill, ECOM, Mars, Nestlé, Ahold, Heinz, Oxfam Novib, and WWF.

The road ahead

Solidaridad initiated its cocoa programme, focused on mainstreaming sustainable cocoa.

Where we work

Featured Programmes

From Bean to Bar

Solidaridad and Casa Lasevicius chocolateria launched a new terroir of fine chocolates from the region of Tuerê settlement, in Novo Repartimento, Pará (Brazil), with 70% cacao. Jader, Odair, Rosilene and Zezinho farms produced the first batch of special almonds for the chocolate. 

Advocacy for Change for Sustainable Cocoa Production

Solidaridad West Africa engages decision-makers, government agencies, civil society organizations, and the private sector to engineer policy reforms on on-farm tree ownership and land ownership security to enhance long-term investments in sustainable land-use practices in cocoa-growing communities in Ghana.

Cocoa Life Programme

The Cocoa Life programme seeks to create a vibrant, strong cocoa supply chain while transforming the livelihoods of farmers in cocoa communities of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire by engaging them in good agricultural practices, diversification, village savings and loans and community development initiatives.

Cocoa Rehabilitation and Intensification Programme (CORIP II)

The programme is bringing to scale sustainable improvements in the cocoa supply chains of Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone through the promotion of service delivery SMEs. This will enhance the large-scale adoption of sustainable intensification, diversification and rehabilitation.

Climate heroes

Our Climate Heroes carbon insetting programme works with companies to cut carbon emissions in coffee and cocoa supply chains that originate with smallholder farmers in Colombia, Nicaragua, Kenya and Uganda.  

Run by Solidaridad, ACORN, Cool Farm Alliance, Fairfood, and &ranj, the Climate Heroes project aims to link 100,000 smallholder farmers to Rabobank’s ACORN carbon platform.

Join us in making cocoa truly sustainable.