Working with Smallholder Cocoa Farmers to Increase Their Incomes
Cocoa has been cultivated in Liberia since the early 1900s and has been the second most important commercial crop after rubber. During the recent civil war, many cocoa farmers abandoned their farms and now need assistance re-establishing production. Production problems include poor planting practices; a lack of good planting material; pest and disease infestation; poor crop husbandry, agroforestry and post-harvest handling practices; and a lack of access to inputs and credit.
To address the challenges faced by Liberian smallholder cocoa farmers, ACDI/VOCA implemented the 2½ year Livelihood Improvement for Farming Enterprises (LIFE) project, funded by USDA. LIFE was part of the Sustainable Cocoa Enterprise Solutions for Smallholders (SUCCESS) Alliance program, which is a global public-private partnership consisting of USAID, USDA, the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), Mars, Inc., local partners and ACDI/VOCA. In Liberia, ACDI/VOCA and its partner, Sustainable Tree Crop Program (STCP), addressed constraints in the cocoa value chain and mitigated the risk to smallholders’ livelihoods by encouraging the diversification of their revenue sources. LIFE worked to improve the livelihoods of 5,600 smallholder farmers in Bong, Nimba and Lofa counties through the following program activities:
- farmer training: training smallholder farmers in cocoa production, crop diversification, pest management, post-harvest handling, marketing and ACDI/VOCA’s signature Farming as a Business (FaaB) curriculum
- nursery, seedling production and tree rehabilitation: supporting the production and distribution of cocoa seedlings through the establishment of nurseries and rehabilitation of cocoa trees
- smallholder organization and increased market access: strengthening farmer cooperatives and organizations to function as profitable commercial enterprises, introducing farmer organization concepts to individual farmers with the objective of forming new farmer groups, and improving farmers’ access to markets
- access to credit: promoting improved credit access for cocoa farmers by training them in requirements and farmer responsibilities and providing assistance to lending institutions
ACDI/VOCA will build on the program’s success as it implements the three-year LIFE II program, which will continue activities in Bong, Nimba and Lofa counties, and expand to include Grand Gedah, River Gee and Gbarpolu counties.