Agroecological Regenerative Cocoa (ARC)

Multi-stakeholder project to promote sustainable cocoa value chains in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

The cocoa tree (Theobroma Cacao) is a tree native to South America's Amazon rainforest, and whilst its production is now globalized, cocoa forms a central part of the region’s indigenous populations. With growing demand, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia now produce 10% of the world's cocoa production, making it an important source of income, especially for rural farmers. However, in parallel, the three countries face the challenge of deforestation for agricultural land expansion. Given the importance of cocoa and the increasing challenge of sustainable production, transitioning towards agroforestry – the integration of crops, trees and other agricultural elements for biodiverse landscapes, based on a profitable and sustainable economic model and integrated into a functional value chain – could prevent the progress of deforestation.

The Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, KAOKA (French chocolate manufacturer), Conservation International Colombia, Biocacao, Foundation KAOKA, and CIFOR-ICRAF are collaborating through this project to improve sustainable cocoa value chains in these countries. The project works to upscale sustainable cocoa production of high quality, on sustainably managed zero-deforestation land, and provide farmers with reliable incomes. The project also aims to increase the value given to high-quality cocoa in the three countries, safeguarding traditional varieties that are important to the countries’ agricultural heritage.

This innovative project benefits from multi-actor participation between NGOs, private sector partners, and local communities. The partners implement the undervalued but effective methods shared by local actors on cocoa agroforestry, soils recovery, cocoa fermentation, and cooperative-private company partnership models. The strengthening of sustainable agricultural landscapes in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru in the cocoa sector is having positive impacts that could be reproduced at the provincial, national, regional and international levels. The Agroecological Regenerative Cocoa project’s objective is to demonstrate the feasibility of establishing environmentally and economically sustainable cocoa value chains at the landscape level that contribute to ecosystems conservation. The project’s participation in technical cocoa roundtables with institutional stakeholders gathers knowledge on best practices to be replicated by other stakeholders. The project engages directly with local communities, responding to the region’s socio-economic context, ensuring social and cultural acceptance. 

Project locations




Project leaders

Yovita Ivanova
Senior Manager at the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT
[email protected]

Sebastien Balmisse
Co-facilitating the implementation of Agroecological Regenerative Cocoa (ARC) on behalf of Kaoka (co-chairing steering committee with CIAT)
[email protected]

Project members

Ernesto Parra
Fundación Biocacao (Cooperativa Colpa de Loros)
[email protected] 

Lourdes Quiñones
Agroforestry Project Officer, CIFOR-ICRAF
[email protected] 

Rey Ariel Borbón Ardila
Director of Sustainable Landscapes, Conservación Internacional Colombia
[email protected]

Víctor León Pérez
Director, KAOKA Foundation
[email protected]