Cocoa is risky business, with many threats to production. Cocoa companies and governments have made strong commitments; to ensure living incomes for producers, eliminate deforestation, child labor and undernourishment and to empower women. 

IDH helps companies and governments reach these goals by facilitating cooperation, innovating scalable solutions and embedding these practices into the market. Through programs like the Cocoa & Forests Initiative, Beyond Chocolate, the Farm and Cooperative Investment Program and Cocoa Origin, IDH aligns groups of stakeholders around a way forward and creates the conditions necessary for their success.

For example, in Côte d’Ivoire, where 70% of the world’s cocoa is produced, the Farm and Coop Investment Program is bridging the gap between agribusiness, financial institutions, service providers and cocoa producers. The program has developed the capacity of cocoa farmers and cooperatives, while also creating innovative financial products to meet farmer’s needs. Five agribusinesses and six financial institutions have now provided 120 M EUR to 46K smallholders, through new financial products and services. An additional 140K smallholder farmers have received training and access to agri-business services.

This access to finance and services enables smallholder cocoa producers to reduce their dependence on money-lenders and helps them bridge their pre-harvest finance shortage. They can then purchase inputs, seedlings and equipment and access cash in times of need. With the right tools, fragmented and hard to-reach smallholder cocoa farmers become empowered, to go from receivers of philanthropy to sustainable and entrepreneurial business men and women.

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In the Cocoa Origins Program, IDH supports Dutch companies using relatively small volumes of cocoa to invest directly in coops and farmers in origins. For example, in the Huila region of Colombia, Cocoa Origins is co-investing in traceability of cocoa from the farm through production to exportation and consumption in the Netherlands. These investments will make it easier for companies to directly invest in improving both the quality and sustainability of the cocoa produced.

The Cocoa and Forests Initiative is another example of a successful coalition of stakeholders convened by IDH. In November 2017, public and private stakeholders in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana signed a commitment to no further conversion of any forest land for cocoa production. In July of 2018, Colombian stakeholders also joined the commitment. National forest management plans have since been signed in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, and companies are delivering individual action plans to meet their commitment. IDH manages the secretariat of the Cocoa and Forests Initiative and pilots landscape projects that balance commodity production, community inclusion and environmental protection.


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  • Dutch Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa (DISCO)

    The Dutch Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa (DISCO) is a public-private partnership active in the Dutch cocoa and chocolate sector working to sustainably improve the livelihoods of current and future cocoa farming families.

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    Dutch Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa (DISCO)
  • Beyond Chocolate

    Beyond Chocolate is the Partnership for a sustainable Belgian chocolate industry.

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    Beyond Chocolate
  • Roadmap to Deforestation-Free Cocoa in Cameroon

    Empowering communities towards sustainable cocoa production, forest protection in Cameroon.

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    Roadmap to Deforestation-Free Cocoa in Cameroon
  • Cocoa Nutrition Initiative

    Designs and validates effective models to improve nutrition of cocoa farming families in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana

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    Cocoa Nutrition Initiative
  • Cocoa Origins

    Supports small volume users of cocoa to get involved in sustainability projects at the origins of their cocoa supply chain

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    Cocoa Origins
  • CocoaSoils

    Improving cocoa farmers’ resilience through integrated soil fertility management

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  • The Farm and Cooperative Investment Program

    Support bankability of cocoa cooperatives and farmers, enabling them to become more professional and to invest in their farms

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    The Farm and Cooperative Investment Program
  • Cocoa & Forests Initiative

    A common vision and joint framework of action in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana eliminating deforestation from the cocoa supply chain

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    Cocoa & Forests Initiative
  • Cocoa Fertilizer Initiative

    Returning soil fertility to key cocoa growing regions in Côte d’Ivoire to limit farm expansion and deforestation

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    Cocoa Fertilizer Initiative

Facts and Figures

  • Private-sector (sustainability) investments in the program (in million euro)

    Target 2018 4
    Result 2018 3.2
    Cumulative target 2020 22.2
    Cumulative result 2016-2018 17.2
  • Number of producers/workers/community enterprises reached by service delivery

    Target 2018 50.000
    Result 2018 165.089
    Cumulative target 2020 150.000
    Cumulative result 2016-2018 218.063
  • Number of cooperatives receiving medium and/ or long-term lending products

    Target 2018 125
    Result 2018 94
    Cumulative target 2020 300
    Cumulative result 2016-2018 117

Relevant SDGs

  • No Poverty
  • Zero Hunger
  • Gender Equality
  • Decent work and economic growth
  • Responsible consumption and protection

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Partners in cocoa