Côte d’Ivoire cacao production: Barry Callebaut and Agri-Logic target yield, farm size and price
05 May 2023 --- As part of a six-year collaboration with Agri-Logic, IDH and Rainforest Alliance, Barry Callebaut has outlined actionable steps that underpin a transformative approach to improve its existing cacao farming model in Côte d’Ivoire, and more broadly, West Africa.
A recent White Paper analysis shows that poverty reduction is driven by three key factors – yield, farm size and price. The results of the Agri-Logic research provide the foundation for the sharpening of Barry Calleabut’s strategy to support cacao farmers in achieving higher production, increased income and protect the forests surrounding cacao farms.
The results form the basis of a shift in approach from less training to more doing – with less emphasis on farmer training and increasing investment to support the farmer with more labor, soil management techniques and planting material.
Farming in Côte d’Ivoire
In the country, cacao is predominantly grown by independent smallholder farmers. According to Agri-Logic data, the average farmer age is 48 years, with an average household size of 10.6 people, or 7.5 people, when excluding dependents who may or may not be relatives but are nonetheless dependent on the farm.
In Côte d’Ivoire, farms are around 5.12 hectares in size, with an average of 3.61 hectares primarily dedicated to cocoa.
Using Agri-Logic’s Farmer Field Book Methodology, data and insights were collected from farmers on various topics, including farm investment, household profile, and environmental impacts. What was found was that poverty reduction is driven by three factors; cocoa yield, farm size and price.
Cocoa yield is affected by farm location and investment
Annual rainfall between 1,500 mm and 2,000 mm is required to grow cocoa in optimal conditions in Côte d’Ivoire. With regard to yield, the data analysis shows two findings.
The first finding is the farm location. Farmers reporting the highest cocoa yield in farms are located in regions with significantly more rainfall (1,699 to 2,500 mm) than the average of cocoa regions.
In contrast, farms in the north and northeast of Côte d’Ivoire received below-average rainfall and reported lower yields in these areas.
The second finding is that the level of farm investment in the form of additional labor and input, such as soil management techniques, also impacts cocoa yield.
The data shows the difference between the bottom and the top quintile of investment levels was significant, with the top 20% of farmers collecting nearly double the yield (around 620 kg/ha on average) relative to the bottom quintile, where average yields were a little over 350 kg/ha.
Investment is critical factor in relation to farm size
The analysis shows that larger farm size only automatically equates to increases in cacao yield compared to smaller farms.
This is particularly representative when farm management is undertaken only by the household, without the investment of additional labor. In contrast, a large farm with an adequate level of investment can drive a higher income level by more cacao being grown, resulting in higher yields and, subsequently, higher reported income.
“Farm investment is key. Roughly, a farmer, on average, will invest somewhere between US$80 and US$120 per hectare and that’s not enough. With regards to farm size, bigger farm size matters, but a large farm only managed by the household without additional investment will not lead to higher yields and income,” says Nicolas Mounard, vice president of sustainability and farming at Barry Callebaut.
Price mechanisms can support an increase in farmer income
Regarding higher prices, the findings show that price mechanisms can support an increase in farmer income, which should be coupled with other factors such as yield, farm size and location.
Barry Callebaut acknowledges that higher farmgate prices lead to poverty reduction and that the appropriate mechanisms to achieve this should be analyzed in a broader context of price construction, for example, the importance of farm gate price as well as export price, to achieve the most significant impact on farmers’ incomes.
The company believes that systemic change is only possible through the participation of all supply chain actors. By sharing this research, Barry Calleabut hopes that a change in approach from less training and more investment into doing will be a valuable contribution to the wider cocoa sector discussion on adaptations to the existing cacao farming model in Côte d’Ivoire and, more broadly, West Africa.
While the findings indicate what activities and approaches should be undertaken to support farmers out of poverty, this must go hand in hand with the development of supporting policies to drive poverty reduction.
This includes the development of integrated agricultural policies and land titles that align national production targets with global demand. In addition, given the reported rate of deforestation in Côte d’Ivoire, there must be a broader discussion on reforestation strategies and production of the same amount of cacao on less land, the company says.
Edited by Elizabeth Green
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