Improving cocoa and coffee systems through innovations and partnerships

Millions of smallholder farmers around the world depend on cocoa and coffee for their livelihoods. Yet they face significant constraints due to climate change, pest and diseases, and inadequate access to planting materials and other farm inputs. They frequently are price-takers, and do not have ready access to market information or finances. Cocoa and coffee production continue to be a driver for deforestation.  While largely traded as a commodity, there is heightened interest in sustainably produced, differentiated superior quality cocoa and coffee that also provide a living income for farmers.

The Alliance, working together with stakeholders across the value chains, are addressing these constraints and opportunities in innovative ways.

From farm through value chains to international standards

For cocoa and coffee, the Alliance is making significant contributions in four key areas:

  • Accessing and conserving genetic diversity
  • Environmental benefits for farming communities and their landscapes
  • Livelihood benefits for farmers
  • Quality benefits for processors and consumers

Through these actionable areas, we have developed and applied a wide range of innovations to mitigate vulnerabilities along the supply chain. This includes extensive work on risk-management, identifying climate-smart agriculture practices, monitoring environmental changes and deforestation, developing sustainably produced superior quality cocoa for a differentiated market and the international cocoa quality and flavour standards. To strengthen the capacity of key actors in value chains and to support living incomes of producers, we are identifying supportive and incentive mechanisms through skills development, agricultural advisories and sustainable financing.

Producing locally significant results, working with stakeholder networks

We have made important progress in cacao genetic resources conservation through CacaoNet. This network of key stakeholders has developed a global conservation strategy and initiated priority actions.

We are able to reach smallholder farmers with relevant and timely information about the production of cocoa and coffee through local agronomic advisories and packages, use of genetic diversity, and feedback on quality and flavor for improved post-harvest processing.

In parallel, we are improving food safety by developing ways to minimize or eliminate cadmium in cocoa in the Andean Region through Clima-LoCA.

In setting the global stage for cocoa, we have been recognizing the work of farmers and celebrating quality, flavor diversity and unique origins in the Cocoa of Excellence.

Challenges

  • Cocoa and coffee are farmed by millions of smallholder farmers around the globe. Environmental challenges like climate change, and pest and diseases and factors related to inadequate access to farming inputs and skills development, puts intense pressure on these farmers, the majority of whom are not assured of a living income.
  • Being price-takers, smallholders often need additional capacity to understand their value chain and have access to market information.
  • The global demand for cocoa and coffee and its generation of national farmer income also contribute to deforestation to make way for greater production.
  • Cocoa and coffee, largely traded as commodities, have been gaining interest in differentiated and superior quality, products and markets  based on sustainable practices that meet buyers’ needs ready to offer better prices.

Results

  • By networking across key stakeholders, the Alliance (CacaoNet) has developed a global cacao genetic resources conservation strategy and derived priority actions with partners.
  • Through locally relevant initiatives, the Alliance was able to reach smallholder farmers and provide relevant and timely information about the production of cocoa and coffee in various forms: local agronomic advisories, feedback on quality and flavour for improved post-harvest processing, conserving and maximizing use of genetic resources, modeling, and providing packages of adaptation practices.
  • In addition to setting international standards for cocoa quality and flavour, we have been recognizing the work of cocoa farmers and celebrating quality, flavour diversity and unique origins (Cocoa of Excellence).
  • We have seen significant strides in improving food safety by developing ways to minimize or eliminate cadmium in cocoa.

Cross-cutting research areas

These cross-disciplinary themes are common to all main research areas