Better nutrition, crop diversification and living wages for farmer resilience

Staple crops can be seasonally scarce and have a high cost in Africa. Its estimated that food accounts for over 60% of a smallholder farming family’s income, severely limiting the money available for other basic necessities, compromising household resilience and the chance for farming families to achieve a decent living income (FAO).

Despite most of the world’s food is being grown by smallholder farmers, they also account for around half of the most undernourished people. This has to change, as not only does access to nutritious food have significant impact on the health and resilience of smallholder farming families, but also on rural economies.

Agricultural value chains that originate with smallholder producers can be a means to reach farming families and address these issues. That’s why IDH is working with public and private partners in agricultural value chains to innovate and transformation business practices. This includes initiatives to foster (i) availability of food, (ii) affordability of food and (iii) consumption of nutritious foods.

Availability of Food:

  • Investing in inclusive agribusiness by working with private sector on effective service delivery models that bring needed services and inputs to smallholders, Farmfit and Farmfit Fund, including working with businesses to support import substitution as in the case of rice in Nigeria;
  • Generating integrated farmer resilience data focusing on food, gender and climate resilience as part of Farmfit’s service delivery model diagnostics;
  • Increasing the local production of fish through our aquaculture program in Malawi;
  • Promoting the commercialisation of local SMEs through our Value Chain Development approach across Africa, including in Rwanda

Affordability of food:

  • Making sure that nutritious food is affordable all year long by working with businesses, governments and multiple stakeholders to ensure that farmers earn a decent income and living wage, including in the tea, banana and horticulture value chains and;
  • Supporting diversification models, especially in cash crops such as cocoa, coffee and tea, so as to ensure diversified incomes and production throughout the year, including in between cash seasons when food prices are high.

Consumption of Nutritious Food:

  • Integrating nutrition awareness into farmer training programs and providing opportunities to grow and sell nutritious foods as experienced in the tea and cocoa sectors

Across all three pillars of food security and improved nutrition is IDH’s approach towards gender transformation. Putting women at the centre of the solution as decision makers and entrepreneurs is critical to a sustainable livelihood, including enhanced food security.

Listen to our latest podcast where IDH’s CEO Joost Oorthuizen and Gaël Lescornec, Manager Cocoa & Food Security, talk you through the three pillars of food security.


Cocoa companies are working on food security and nutrition!

On the occasion of World Food Day celebrated on 16 October, cocoa value chain actors made up of government, industry and technical partners, recognize the importance of improving the food security and nutrition of smallholder farming communities for the sustainability of the cocoa sector.

As part of our engagement to improve smallholder farmer resilience and living income, we support efforts to integrate food security and improved nutrition in existing commitments for a more sustainable cocoa sector. Specifically we state our collective support on the following:

  • Recognize food security and improved nutrition as part of the solution for achieving living income and building smallholder farmer resilience.

  • Integrate food security and improved nutrition where relevant in the implementation of existing cocoa sustainability commitments.

  • Use company service delivery models to integrate and scale food security and improved nutrition with farmers and their families.

  • Use World Food Day as an opportunity to come together and scale up an integrated approach to food security and nutrition within the cocoa value chain.

Company Learning Briefs

Four of our partners just shared their company learning briefs on nutrition in the cocoa sector. Find out about key insights by reading the briefs below:

For more information get in contact with