725 farmers in the UTZ program (Combined 780 farmers from 97 cooperatives)

55 farmers in control group

UTZ program (in Côte d’Ivoire) initiated in 2008. Study analyses situation by mid-2013.

Varied agro-ecological zones in Côte d’Ivoire


Publication date: June 2014

This research was independently carried out by LEI Wageningen UR. The objective of the study was to obtain information about achievements and effectiveness of the UTZ Cocoa program in Côte d’Ivoire and draw recommendations in order to improve the quality of the program. The research was commissioned and financed by UTZ in collaboration with Solidaridad and IDH Sustainable Trade Initiative.


Côte d’Ivoire has been the world largest cocoa exporter since 1980. The country currently produces between 41% and 60% of the world supply representing 15% of the local GDP and 30% of the national export income. The majority of the farmers are smallholders with 1.5 to 5 hectares. The main challenges the cocoa sector faces are climate change, low productivity, child labor and the ageing farmer population.

Research methods:

Baseline Counterfactual Statistical analysis Validation workshops


The UTZ program in Côte d’Ivoire is effectively supporting smallholder cocoa farmers to implement good agricultural, social and environmental practices. Contributing to better income and productivity together with increased satisfaction of farmers with their living conditions.


The research found that there was an increase in the knowledge of good agricultural practices amongst UTZ certified cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire.  Farmers were also sharing this knowledge, 83% of farmers mentioned training workers and relatives in these practices.


More than a third of certified farmers mentioned the quality of the cocoa had improved since certification.  Their average yield (467 kg per ha) is higher than that of non-certified farmers (315 kg/ha). The premium payment for certified cocoa is an important incentive for farmers.


Children’s education is improving according to UTZ program participants: 49% of UTZ farmers use increased cocoa revenues to send their children to school, the main investment among respondents.


92% of UTZ certified farmers experienced positive changes from certification. 82% mentioned living conditions had improved. Farmers cited improvements in better farm management and farming practices, increased yields and improved income.


The study highlights the need of improvements, both possible and necessary. The revised UTZ code of conduct approved in June 2014, already addresses some of these areas of improvement.

Gender and inclusiveness – Women and youths represent about half of the work force on cocoa farms and yet the report found they were not being reached as effectively by the program. UTZ revised code of conduct provides specific focus on women’s inclusion, participation in trainings and awareness raising sessions.

Premium transparency – The study recommends more transparency on the distribution of the premium. The revised code of conduct clarifies the premium’s procedure and requires more explicit level of transparency subject to yearly external audits.

Awareness of Code requirements on child labor – Although cases of child labor have decreased in UTZ certified cocoa farms, they have not been completely eliminated. UTZ is dedicated to the full eradication of child labor, working closely together with international and local experts, governments and local communities. The organization invests in measures to prevent, detect, remediate and ultimately eradicate child labor on all UTZ certified farms. Read more about UTZ position on Child Labor.

Productivity and profitability – Farmers don’t always see cocoa farming as a feasible option for their children. UTZ believes that sustainable cocoa production can improve economic prospects. UTZ also encourages diversification so that farmers have alternatives that enable them to better cope with risks of climate change and market price fluctuation. Good agricultural- and farm management practices provided by certification, offer the right skills to succeed in different agro-economic sectors.

UTZ Response

“We are very pleased with the in-depth insights and extensive data that this report provides on the conditions of certified and non-certified cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire. The report presents a clear reference point to monitor further improvements in knowledge and practices of farmers. Their income, working and living conditions, as well as their expectations.”

“Since I started applying good agricultural practices (weeding and pruning), I produce better quality cocoa. I observe my plantation better and know what is good and what is bad, and this gives me more effectivity.”Male farmer, Guiltry

rocessing cocoa beans in UTZ farmer field school Côte d’Ivoire

‘‘Productivity has increased from 350kg/ha to 700kg/ha mainly for those farmers who follow the recommendations of our trainers.”Cooperative manager

“We have money to  face our problems, even in case of emergency, since  we can access credits  from the coop before  selling them our cocoa,  for instance to pay school fees for my kids or when they are sick.”Male farmer, Anouanzè de Duékoué

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