Joint Cocoa Platform Operations in Times of Corona

Resuming most of the training activities
Training in the field like this had been suspended for some time  © Forum Nachhaltiger Kakao 

PRO-PLANTEURS was able to respond quickly to the needs of the supported cooperatives and women’s groups that were created during the pandemic.

To contain the pandemic, Côte d’Ivoire had introduced several restrictions from the end of March. Since cooperatives and farmers indicated fear of infection during training, PRO-PLANTEURS suspended planned activities. This affected the last of four face-to-face training courses for the management level of 17 cocoa cooperatives.

Then the number of infections remained low in the country. The government loosened restrictions from May/June onwards.

Together with the implementing partners, PRO-PLANTEURS found solutions to resume the training sessions responsibly. The face-to-face training in cooperatives was changed into direct coaching for the cooperatives, with proper hygiene measures. Thus, only the appreciated component of the exchange between the cooperatives during training had to be canceled.

In consultation with the cooperatives and implementation partners, the training sessions with the farmers were also resumed outdoors and in smaller groups.

With the easing of travel restrictions at the end of June, hygiene products such as washing stations and disinfectants could be handed out to the supported cooperatives and women’s groups so that they could continue to operate. The products were procured via financing from the Federal Association of the German Confectionery Industry. Since July the project staff is once again in the field regularly, supporting the implementation of the project.

Distributing wash stations and sanitisers to supported cooperatives and women groups

This one-year training programme will help to professionalize the 35 cooperatives working with PRO-PLANTEURS. In this way, the project will help the trained cooperatives to better react to shocks such as decreasing prices, poor harvests or a sanitary crisis and to compensate for negative effects.

This is done, for example, by improving access to credit. At the start of the project in 2016, none of the 35 cooperatives had received loans from financial institutions. In 2018, seven cooperatives had already received a loan, and in 2019, as many as 16 cooperatives had received a loan. The total volume of loans increased from EUR 659,000 (2018) to EUR 1,147,000 (2019).

In addition to training, the events organised by the project with financial institutions are valued as a tool for improving access to finance. The mutual needs and requirements are clarified in an exchange of information.

About the platform

PRO-PLANTEURS is a joint project of the Sustainable Cocoa Forum, the German Federal Government and the Ivorian Government. PRO-PLANTEURS aims to professionalise cocoa-producing smallholder farms and their cooperatives in five regions in southern and eastern Côte d’Ivoire in order to improve the living conditions of families by increasing income and providing a more balanced diet. The second five-year project phase started in June 2020.


Sonia Lehmann (CI),