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Increasing cocoa productivity through improved nutrition

Cocoa is cultivated in more than 40 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Over 90% of global cocoa production is cultivated by an estimated 5.5 million smallholders and most live below the poverty line and lack access to nutritious food.

This concept brief analyses cocoa production statistics compared with nutritional data of the three major cocoa producing countries  – Ivory Coast, Ghana and Indonesia – and demonstrates the consequences of under-nutrition for the sector. It outlines the possible interventions for combining Good Agricultural Practices with Good Nutritional Practices and shows the enormous potential for the cocoa sector.

For the cocoa industry in particular, under-nutrition might lead to direct losses in cocoa productivity from:

  • reduced labor output and physical productivity due to illness, fatigue and other health related problems
  • reduced cognitive development and educational performance due to malnutrition early in life
  • losses in household resources from increased health care costs

Additional productivity gains might be achievable in the cocoa sector if it invests in interventions to promote human nutrition security through a certification incentive. The following four interrelated interventions, as presented in this paper, are designed to achieve improved nutrition in the cocoa value chain. Together they constitute a smart combination of Good Agricultural Practices and Good Nutritional Practices:

  • nutrition sensitive value chains for local products: building nutrition sensitive value chains beginning by increasing the local production, preservation and marketing of affordable nutritious, nutrient dense foods (vegetables, fruits, animal based food products) to be sold in local markets. Sustainable improvements in the food basket can best be brought about by commercially viable value chains with push and pull factors
  • increased nutritious food consumption through food diversification:promoting household production that includes: a diversified basket ofnutrient rich crops such as fruits and vegetables, and animal source foodssuch as eggs, chicken, fish and dairy products
  • strengthening the role of women: ensuring women are empowered to make household decisions, especially to spend resources on improving nutrition for all family members at all stages of the lifecycle
  • Nutrition education: raising awareness on good nutrition, health and sanitation practices through education programmes