GROW is collaborating with exporters, cooperatives, investors, and government agencies to shift the industry towards quality-conscious, structured, and niche cocoa trading with wider benefits for farmers, businesses, and Liberia.
IMPROVING COCOA QUALITY & YIELDS
GROW is working with traders and cooperatives in Nimba and Lofa counties to increase yields and the quality of cocoa produced.
Poor soil fertility management, aging tree stocks, and improper use of chemicals are major threats to Liberian cocoa farms. Cocoa yields in Liberia at 200 kg per hectare are about 30% of that of neighbouring countries.
This presents an opportunity for traders and cooperatives to incentivise farmers to employ farming practices that will increase yields and ensure a steady supply of high-quality cocoa and ultimately increase the profitability of Liberia's cocoa sector.
Certification: the key to
transforming Liberia’s cocoa sector?
Elizabeth Seka, 56, is one of thousands of farmers producing cocoa in the bush around Buutuo. She works with her 16-year old daughter on her two-acre farm. Last year they produced 40 kilos of cocoa, having lost 90 percent of their crop to pests. But that’s not the only problem.
“Everyone suffers from the same problem of no fixed price,” she says. “I do not get a good price for my cocoa sales, only 90 Liberian dollars per kilo.” Elizabeth earned the equivalent of 40 USD last season which is not enough to provide for her seven children. “As well as cocoa I also farm rice to eat as otherwise we do not have food,” she explains.
Elizabeth’s story is typical among cocoa farmers in Liberia and poverty levels are extremely high. This is due to a market weakened by a lack of regulation and prices that do not consider quality differentiation.
Good AGRICULTURAL Practices Training
Liberian cocoa farmers looking to trade with high-quality cocoa buyers (with a view towards certification), need to put in place certain key business model elements, which include consistently practicing good agricultural practices (GAP) on their farms.
GROW is currently supporting various cooperatives in Nimba and Lofa county to embed Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) training within their business models to help farmers improve the quality and sustainability of their cocoa farms.
Smallholder farmers engaged in cocoa production
Metric tons of cocoa beans produced in Liberia in 2016
Yields per hectare; a third of that of neighbouring countries