Using Innovative Educational Exchanges to Increase Cocoa Production and Quality in Ecuador

This project included three innovative tours where farmers learned from farmers and saw with their own eyes different cocoa management techniques, both in the field and at the administrative level. The monitoring and evaluation strategy included base line and end line surveys to assess the positive impacts of the tours.

Ecuador is known for unique fine flavor cocoa that is principally grown by small-scale poor farmers. Cocoa is a native tree crop that provides important environmental services such as soil conservation, carbon sequestration and is usually grown organically. Moreover, fine flavor cocoa is an important high value cash crop for farmers with a market that is growing. However, the reputation of Ecuadorian cocoa is threatened by poor or uneven varietal selection, production and post-harvest techniques.

There is a need for more unity among the sector to ensure that Ecuador realizes its immense potential. This will ultimately benefit farmers in real ways as they are able to fetch higher prices with their quality and increase their yield to meet demand. Therefore, it is important that Ecuadorian farmers adopt proper techniques to ensure future market sustainability and growth. Many growers’ associations (GAs) have been working with development organizations for years to improve production (selection of genetic material, planting, pruning), post harvest (drying, fermenting, classification), and organizational capacity (pricing, logistics, certification, internal system of control). However, the process of fully training a growers’ association and its farmers is long, costly, and often not entirely successful because they are run by outsiders or are not participative. Often within a region there is not enough expertise to observe change, thus farmers would benefit by visiting other farmers at other growers’ associations. This project developed an innovative training methodology to address the lack of adoption of production and post-harvest technologies by farmers despite their importance in improving cocoa quality, price, and, theoretically, farmers’ livelihoods.

Year of publication: 
UNDP Capacity is Development knowledge fair
Themes and sectors: 
Agriculture, fisheries, and food security

The above is a summary or extract from the original source material. For the complete case story, please see the address given above.