Sustainable cocoa and coffee

Unlocking the power of young cocoa farmers in Nicaragua and Honduras

March 21, 2024

In 2021, 170,000 talented Nicaraguans emigrated to the United States, Spain and other countries. The migration of young people from the countryside to the city is a permanent phenomenon. It is motivated by the search for better income, employment and education.

Young people in rural areas of Nicaragua face many challenges. In Matagalpa, cocoa is the main source of income for the population; yet young people cannot find sufficient income on the family farm.

By investing in the capacity of young people, we are making an important contribution to the sustainability of the cocoa value chain. By involving young people in cocoa production, farmers' organisation La Campesina will not only increase its cocoa production, but also maintain and strengthen its commercial link with Colruyt supermarket. By working to diversify products and income for cocoa farmers, we build resilience and prosperity in cocoa communities, with a positive social and environmental impact on the chain.

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Matagalpa (Nicaragua)

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40 young producers, 30 young entrepreneurs, and 120 young people that are trained in sustainable production

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In Matagalpa, young people often depend on the family farm, but this is not enough to make a living from agriculture. This, together with the political situation and the effects of Covid-19 on the rural economy, are reasons for migration.

In the farming communities close to farmers’ association La Campesina, 45% of young people are unemployed or have no regular source of income, a situation exacerbated by Covid-19. The farmers’ association invests in their training, technical advice, education funds and actively includes them in its professional team. But how to take bolder steps to integrate them into the value chain?

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Our approach

We are creating employment opportunities with a local model that can involve and empower young people in the cocoa value chain, in partnership with La Campesina and Collibri Foundation, the foundation of Belgian supermarket chain Colruyt. Key activities include

  • Diploma course in Sustainable Cocoa Production: 40 young entrepreneurs will be trained in cocoa farm management in partnership with the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH-CURLA). Key topics: morphology and genetics of cocoa, soils, climatology, phytosanitary management and mountain micro-organisms, nurseries and experimental design of plantations, farm management plans, tasting and marketing.
  • Cocoa in agroforestry systems: Participants will be supported to establish cocoa under agroforestry systems, in combination with beekeeping and other income-generating activities. Diploma graduates will increase their repertoire of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), regenerative farming tools, bio-input production, etc. and share what they have learned with their peers, other young cocoa farmers from their communities.
  • Entrepreneurship programme: We train young people to start their own businesses. This consists of two components: a training programme for 30 young people, and funding for 10 start-ups.
  • Soft skills training programme: We help participants develop leadership, communication, teamwork and assertiveness skills for business.
  • Knowledge exchange: The young people will be exposed to national and international experiences through visits and knowledge exchange with other young people from the Central American region, with particular emphasis on learning new information technologies to support cocoa production in agroforestry systems.
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Expected results

By the end of the project, more young people will be part of the La Campesina team and will find their way into other producer organisations. This change has an impact on the business model, with higher production and higher prices for young (and non-young) producers. In addition, by the end of the project,

  • 40 young people will have received a diploma in agroforestry systems
  • 120 young people will indirectly be benefiting from new knowledge in cocoa production -each young person from the diploma course replicates his or her knowledge with three other young people
  • 30 young people are trained as entrepreneurs - 10 of them end up with funding for their start-up, providing services and managing climate-smart agroforestry plots
  • 50 young people are trained in soft skills - 40 of them are participants of the agroforestry courses and 10 are financed entrepreneurs

At the end of the process, an estimated 150 young people would be supplying La Campesina with cocoa and other food system products.

Who do we work with?

La Campesina
Collibri Foundation
Colruyt Group


Napoleón Molina

Sustainable Cocoa and Coffee programme director in Latin America | Regional director

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