In March 2017, the German Federal Minister for Development, Dr. Gerd Müller, visited a UTZ-certified cocoa farm in Côte d’Ivoire as part of a trip supported by the German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa (GISCO). Together with representatives from the initiative and the cocoa authority of Côte d’Ivoire, the Conseil du Café-Cacao (CCC), Gerd Müller was there to learn about the steps that have been taken towards sustainable cocoa farming and to hear the initial results. 

“The trip gave us all insights into the value chain for cocoa in Côte d’Ivoire and is a great example of how broad collaboration to create sector change can work in practice”, says Siriki Diakité, UTZ Regional Representative for West Africa, who also joined the visit.

Higher yields and improved sources of income

The farm that was visited is part of the COOPAAAKO COOPCA cooperative in the Adzopé-Akoupe region in the south western part of Côte d’Ivoire. The cooperative has been UTZ certified for a long time.

For cocoa farmer Edmond Yapi, the owner of the plot of land which was visited, it is a worthwhile collaboration. He reports that he now harvests more than 1,000 kilograms of cocoa per hectare. This is around two-and-a-half times the yield from an average plot of land.

The PRO-PLANTEURS project, where his farm takes part in also supports him with broadening his sources of income. Through the cultivation of food crops such as cassava, bananas, yam and aubergines, the families can become self-sufficient for the whole year.

Three focus areas for sustainable cocoa

The PRO-PLANTEURS project is initiated by GISCO. The goal of the project is to improve the income and living conditions of cocoa farmers and their families, specifically targeting young and female cocoa farmers in order to achieve better nutrition of the families through diversification.

The project focuses on three different areas:

  1. professional development of the farmers’ organisations
  2. training of the cocoa farmers in sustainable farming
  3. creation of additional sources of income for women in particular and making cocoa farming appealing to the youth

Around 100 cocoa farmers showed the visitors the different working steps in cocoa farming and what the implementation of the individual measures means on the ground.

Bundesentwicklungsminister Gerd Müller besucht UTZ-zertifizierte Farm Elfenbeinküste.

German federal Minister visits cocoa farm in Côte d’Ivoire  © GISCO

Networking and learning from each other

As a member of the technical committee of the PRO-PLANTEURS project, Diakité Siriki has supported the initiative in Côte d’Ivoire since the start of the project in 2015.

“During the trip all stakeholders actively participated in the exchange with others in order to come closer to reaching the common goals. GISCO and the PRO-PLANTEURS project with the focus on farmer group strengthening, productivity and gender are great examples of our engagement in achieving a sustainable cocoa sector. It offers us the opportunity to share experiences, align better and put more resources together to reach our shared goals”.

The German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa

Logo of Forum Nachhaltiger Kakao-The German Initiative on Sustainable CocoaIn June 2012, the German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa was founded to improve the situation of cocoa farmers in producing countries and support sustainable cocoa production. GISCO is an alliance of the German federal government, the German cocoa confectionery industry, food trade and NGOs including certification programs UTZ, Fairtrade and the Rainforest Alliance. They combine their efforts to act more efficiently and increase their impact – in close cooperation with the governments in cocoa producing countries like Côte d’Ivoire. UTZ is one of the founding members of GISCO and has been an active member of the executive team or several years.

Curious to know what else we do to create sector change? Find out more about the UTZ Sector Partnerships Program.