Cocoa Cooperative Boosts Farmer's Income

Written By: Priscilla Sogah

Kouadio Akissi, a single mother of seven children and a proud female farmer, lives in a small community in the western part of Cote d’Ivoire named Aki Kouamekro.

Kouadio began farming after her father’s death in 1995, a time in which she was already struggling to meet the needs of two children. According to Kouadio, farming was the only means for her family’s survival at the time, and so, with very little knowledge or technical skills, she did her best to continue her father’s legacy.

While stirring dried cocoa beans, Kouadio recounted the challenges of the first five years of farming while being a nursing mother, describing, “I couldn’t leave my child at home, nor could I stay home without going to the farm. My children would have nothing to eat if I didn’t farm.”

During this time, Cote d’Ivoire operated in an unregulated cocoa marketing system, which made it difficult for cooperatives to negotiate good prices for smallholder farmers. In this case, isolated farmers (farmers who were not members of a cooperative) faced enormous challenges while trying to negotiate directly with individually-licensed cocoa buyers. For Kouadio and many others, cocoa production was essentially unprofitable.

“I was often short-changed by the individually-licensed cocoa buyers because I didn’t belong to any cooperative,” Kouadio shared. However, through CARE’s advocacy and support to farmers, Kouadio now belongs to the COOPADI Cocoa Cooperative, a local organization for farmers.

Since joining the COOPADI Cocoa Cooperative, Kouadio shared that her income has tripled, saying, “I now earn 65,000 F.CFA (USD $109.57) for a 65kg bag of cocoa compared to the little amount I used to earn.”

Kouadio now cultivates two hectares of cocoa, and also farms cassava and okra. With this secure income source, Kouadio’s seven children are all in school, and the family no longer struggles with access to food.

Thanks to advocacy and engagements by CARE and other national stakeholders, the pricing of cocoa in Cote d’Ivoire is now well-regulated, with no cocoa price negotiation with smallholder farmers.

CARE’s support to cooperatives has enhanced cooperative management in 10 beneficiary communities through leadership and gender integration trainings, and has also improved capacity to address community developmental needs.