Specialty Crops

Developing Stronger Cocoa and Coffee Value Chains to Benefit Smallholder Farmers Worldwide

Cocoa and coffee are generally grown in tropical developing countries within 20 degrees above or below the equator. They are largely consumed in the developed world, although domestic consumption is increasing in origin countries. As specialty crops, both coffee and cocoa offer enormous potential for smallholder farmers and their families to increase their incomes and break out of the poverty cycle.

Sustainable Development: People, Profit, and Planet

ACDI/VOCA’s Specialty Crops unit fosters the sustainable development of cocoa and coffee sectors to empower smallholder farmers to take control of their economic futures by improving their business skills, increasing their technical knowledge to improve production, and promoting direct market linkages to buyers and global markets. Specialty Crops projects aim to foster growth that is socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable.

Market Systems Approach to Cocoa and Coffee Value Chains

ACDI/VOCA draws on our extensive expertise in these high-value crops and works with internal agribusiness, financial, and value chain experts as well as government, NGO, commercial, and research partners to identify solutions to obstacles faced by farmers, associations, buyers, and processors.

This work applies a market-oriented approach to designing and implementing projects, which leads to increased product value, reliability, and efficiency at various levels of the supply chain. It creates a win-win, ensuring that smallholder farmers are able to capture greater value through gains in productivity and quality, while commercial allies benefit from increased volumes and improved quality.

Aligning Business and Farmer Interests for Win-Win

To maximize impact, ACDI/VOCA finds and fosters new market channels by matching interested commercial partners with organized farmers who receive training to help them improve yields and meet quality standards.

In addition, ACDI/VOCA frequently targets farmers who have been working individually and are interested in forming cooperatives or associations. Using market knowledge and existing relationships with commercial partners, ACDI/VOCA enables farmers to understand and attain economies of scale and gain the skills needed to organize and work together in order to achieve the volume and quality that commercial partners require.

Moving Farmers up the Value Chain

This means that farmers who have previously sold to intermediaries gain the leverage to sell higher up the supply chain and capture a greater percentage of the value of their crop. They also learn important business and negotiating skills and become more competitive and business oriented. Some are prepared to enter niche markets that require organic, fair trade, or other third-party certifications. These differentiated markets consistently offer higher prices to producers provided that they can meet the markets’ rigorous requirements.

Mission-Driven, Market-Minded

Through its Specialty Crops program, ACDI/VOCA provides the knowledge and skills that coffee and cocoa farmers need to meet market demands so that they can generate greater incomes and provide a higher quality of life for their families and their communities. These projects work with large numbers of farmers, and their scale provides opportunities to promote gender equity, introduce environmental approaches such as climate-smart agricultural and agroforestry practices, and otherwise promote broad societal gains.