Building sustainable cocoa communities in Côte d’Ivoire

Côte d’Ivoire is the world’s leading producer of cocoa (Theobroma cacao L.), with 800,000 smallholders producing nearly 40% of the world’s supply of ‘brown gold’ on about 2 million hectares of land. But many of these communities are living below the poverty line, struggling as their ageing orchards face crop disease outbreaks, yielding less and less cacao fruit. Over decades, a lack of improved germplasm and inputs such as fertilizer have resulted in degraded cocoa landscapes.

With support from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and Mars, Inc., the Vision for Change (V4C) project is helping to revitalize the country’s cocoa sector through a combination of agricultural support and community development.

In 2020, an analysis of the factors that influence whether farmers introduce new tree species on their cocoa farms found that the number of new species rose with farmers’ tree planting experience and with how much they expected to benefit from the trees. Farmers mainly selected species that provide shade for cocoa or that yield fruit or other valuable products. When clearing land for cocoa production, farmers spared timber and indigenous and exotic fruit and nut species. This suggests that increasing the number of exotic fruit tree species could help diversify incomes and reduce food and nutritional insecurity in cocoa-producing zones.

V4C continues to search for solutions to cocoa swollen shoot disease (CSSD), which is devastating thousands of hectares of cocoa fields. Without any resistant varieties of cocoa or methods to treat CSSD, farmers are in despair. CIFOR-ICRAF studied on-farm rehabilitation approaches using improved hybrid varieties and elite clones, and examined the potential of biological control and biopesticides to manage mealybugs – the insects that transmit the disease – with promising results.

Project info


Vision for Change (V4C) : Building Sustainable Cocoa Communities in Côte d’Ivoire


Côte d’Ivoire

Funding partners

Mars Incorporated

Project partners

Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MINADER), Mars, Inc., Conseil Café – Cacao (Coffee and Cocoa Board), National Center for Agronomic Research (CNRA), National Agency for Rural Development Support (ANADER), Interprofessional Fund for Agricultural Research and Council (FIRCA), National Meteorological Agency (SODEXAM), universities including Félix Houphouët Boigny University (UFHB), Nangui Abrogoua University (UNA), Jean Lorougnon Guédé University (UNILog), Allassane Ouattara University (UAO), Houphouët-Boigny National Polytechnic Institute (INP-HB) and the National School for Applied Economics (ENSEA)

Focal point

Christophe Kouamé, ICRAF

forward better


In 2020 – a year like no other – CIFOR-ICRAF continued to deliver the world’s best science on forests and trees in agricultural landscapes, shifting the conversation online as the Covid-19 pandemic evolved.

This annual report features stories about expertise, dedication and perseverance. When people responded to the pandemic with calls to ban wild meat, CIFOR-ICRAF experts stepped forward with recent, highly relevant evidence in hand, highlighting the needs of communities who rely on wild game for nutrition. Other scientists forged ahead to deliver compelling research findings on improved tree seed and restoration work in Ethiopia, agroforestry in Southeast Asia, and a new model for sustainable use of woodfuel in refugee camps – among many other topics.

CIFOR-ICRAF continued to chart its path as one organization, with a new 10-year strategy that outlines game-changing solutions to five global challenges: deforestation and biodiversity loss, the climate crisis, unsustainable supply and value chains, the need to transform food systems, and extreme inequality for women, Indigenous Peoples and vulnerable rural communities.

Three new holistic approaches will deliver actionable solutions to these challenges: Transformative Partnership Platforms, Engagement Landscapes and Flagship Products. And the newly launched Resilient Landscapes aims to leverage the power of the private sector to spur greater investment in nature-based solutions.

The Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) held its first fully virtual conference in June and didn’t stop there, seeing unprecedented digital growth during the year. And the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) marked its 10th science conference – also virtual – while continuing to demonstrate the power of partnership.