Chocolate and cocoa in Côte d’Ivoire
The fifth National Cocoa and Chocolate Days in Abidjan were aimed at stimulating domestic consumption
Cocoa (Theobroma cacao L.) contributes 20% of the Gross Domestic Product and nearly 50% of Côte d’Ivoire’s export earnings, accounting for 40% (2,019,479 tons in 2017) of world production.
Clearly, cocoa is important to Côte d’Ivoire, reflected also in the annual National Cocoa and Chocolate Days organized by the ‘Conseil du Café et du Cacao’. The Days are an opportunity for cocoa producers, companies and anyone else with a love of cocoa and chocolate to promote their services and knowledge. More than 20,000 people visited the exhibition and conference centre where the main activities were held.
Reflecting the so-called Fourth Wave concept being debated in the closely related coffee sector, which argues that the latest significant development globally is increased domestic awareness and consumption in producing countries, the Days’ theme this year was Promotion of Local Consumption of Chocolate as an Opportunity to Develop the Cocoa Sector. The Days ran from 28 September to 3 October 2018.
The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) has been contributing to the sustainability of the cocoa sector in Côte d’Ivoire and other West African countries through the Vision for Change project funded by Mars Inc. Since 2012, Vision for Change has trained 10,000 farmers in good agricultural practices as part of rehabilitating old or degraded cocoa farms infected by cocoa swollen shoot virus and funded 180 community projects in health, education, access to clean water and income-generating activities for women and youth.
ICRAF showcased diversification of food crops in cocoa production systems during the Days at the exhibition and conference centre. Particular attention was placed on the Nawa Region, where women’s associations under Vision for Change have improved food crops’ production, increased nutritious consumption and also added value to products.
Two producers, Cécile Gueho and Assiata Bamba, worked with the ICRAF team during the six days of the exhibition. They came with products from their market gardens: vegetables and other crops. They interacted with the public, explaining how they were trained and simultaneously empowered to run their gardens as businesses for profit.
They also explained that they had also been trained in how to process their products to add more value.
For example, they produced cassava, which they transformed into ‘attiéké’ (steamed cassava) that can be stored outside a refrigerator for up to two weeks, unlike similar products from large commercial producers that had a shelf-life of only three days.
Others in the group grew soybeans that they processed into flour, spice and cakes. The money from the sales supported their families and improvement of cocoa production.
At the Days’ opening ceremony, Mamadou Sangafowa Coulibaly, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, representing Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, explained the Government programs aimed at sustainable development of the cocoa sector, such as processing cocoa to add value, fighting swollen shoot disease, and a joint strategy between Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana to better coordinate sustainable development of the cocoa value chains. The Minister added that the Government also wanted to improve the competitiveness of cocoa-processing companies and promote private investment.
Vision for Change is supported by Mars Inc. and managed by ICRAF. The project seeks to improve the fortunes of Côte d’Ivoire’s cocoa sector by increasing yields, improving quality and ensuring profitable returns in thriving rural communities. This is done by rehabilitating cocoa orchards and by encouraging and supporting community development.
The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) is a centre of scientific excellence that harnesses the benefits of trees for people and the environment. Knowledge produced by ICRAF enables governments, development agencies and farmers to utilize the power of trees to make farming and livelihoods more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable at multiple scales. ICRAF is one of the 15 members of the CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future. We thank all donors who support research in development through their contributions to the CGIAR Fund.