Rikolto launched its cocoa and coffee programme in West Africa on 4 November 2022. The launch event took place at the Belgian embassy in Abidjan and was attended by Heidy Rombouts, Director of the Belgian Directorate General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid (DGD).
The cocoa programme is being implemented in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana, which together produce 60% of the chocolate consumed around the world, with more than 1,400,000 families involved in cocoa production.
Although it is one of the most popular and highly traded commodities on the international market, there is still room for improvement when it comes to the livelihoods of those who produce it. The factors hindering this include inadequate integration of producers and producer organisations into the cocoa value chain.
"Hence the desire to ensure that farmers can benefit from a decent income. This is the commitment that Belgium has made as part of the Beyond Chocolate initiative" Michael Wimmer, Ambassador of Belgium to Côte d'Ivoire
Rikolto, whose mission is to contribute to sustainable income for smallholder farmers and safe, nutritious and affordable food for all, works to make the cocoa sector in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana more resilient, sustainable and inclusive. It has secured funding from the DGD to work with 13,000 cocoa farmers, governments and other stakeholders in the cocoa sector to ensure a living income for the producers.
Through this programme, Rikolto collaborates with a dozen agricultural producer organisations on their path towards professionalisation. Together with these, we will work to ensure that cocoa farmers who are members contribute to the reduction of deforestation, increase the productivity of their land, and progressively put agroforestry systems into practice. The farmers will also be supported in improving the quality of the cocoa bean through centralised fermentation and drying. Building on training, farmers will be able to diversify their income and food sources while helping to reduce their ecological footprint.
The cocoa and coffee programme, designed to promote inclusion along the value chain, strives to provide the necessary expertise to producers to establish trade relationships with other market players in the sector, and to understand and participate in sustainability programmes developed with supermarkets and chocolate companies.
‘Our programme takes into account the three interlinked aspects: people, planet and profit,’ says Félix Kodjia, Regional Director of the cocoa and coffee programme.
Furthermore, the projects developed under Rikolto's 2022 - 2026 strategy will enable cocoa farmers to be linked to markets for other crops produced in the cocoa landscape, and to access financial resources for agricultural investment.
Over the next five years, Rikolto, as an expert in multi-stakeholder dialogues, will further provide the necessary support for actors in both Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana to create regional multi-stakeholder platforms that will help shape national political agendas. In doing so, we will act as an ally of producers and other actors in the cocoa sector by providing them with various platforms to exercise global political influence.