How Input Providers Can Help Farmers Grow More Cocoa on Less Land

Author Florent Clair

Cocoa Manager, West and Central Africa
Photo by UPL

Arysta Lifescience, a global agricultural company, has been a WCF member since 2015. The company joined the World Cocoa Foundation to materialize its long-term commitment to a sustainable cocoa sector in West Africa. In February 2019, Arysta was acquired by UPL, the fastest growing company in the agrochemical industry, creating a new leader in global agriculture. This merger presents a huge opportunity to transform cocoa farming, to enhance the lives of farmers, and to grow the world’s cocoa supply sustainably. This approach is embedded in the ‘OpenAg’ vision. OpenAg is an open agriculture network that feeds sustainable growth for all, with no limits and no borders. It’s a model that brings together all the different players in the food system – from farmers to food producers to supermarkets to consumers – with a new purpose. UPL will generate a much deeper impact on society, where agriculture is properly valued, food is sustainable, and farmers grow and prosper.

UPL’s approach to sustainability comes to life both through company activities and through products. For instance, UPL has decided to reduce its environmental footprint by 30% by 2020 across four focus areas: water consumption, carbon emissions, waste generation, and wastewater generation.

Caring enough is the commitment to ‘do things better’ – not just for the business but for the world at large. We undertake multiple initiatives to strengthen communities.

Sandra Shroff Vice Chairman, UPL

Leading Cocoa Farmers Toward Better Yields and Bigger Profits

But UPL’s core mission is to cultivate prosperity through advanced agriculture. Our role is to provide concrete agronomy solutions and to share our expertise and technical know-how with the cocoa industry. The solutions we provide are based on a farmer-centric approach and made to deliver quick returns on investment for the farmer. When growing more cocoa on less land becomes a reality, there are multiple benefits, including optimization of local resources, an increase in farmers’ profitability and resilience, and a reduction in plantation extension in forests.

To progressively introduce improved technical itineraries into farmers practices in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, we have developed a three-step approach:

  1. Training Campaign
  2. Demonstration Plot (including a GAP and input package)
  3. Large Scale Project

These charts show an example of the impact this kind of approach can deliver after one season. These data points were collected during the 2018/2019 harvest season, under the pilot phase of a project run with OCEAN and the ECAM cooperative of Méagui, South West of Côte d’Ivoire. The success was such that the cooperative decided to triple the number of farmers participating in the project for the next season.

Standard Technical Itinerary (17/18 harvest) UPL Technical Itinerary (18/19 harvest)
Av. yield/ha 653 kg 915 kg
Price of cocoa/kg 700 700
Gross income/ha 457 100 CFA 640 500 CFA
Banzaï cost – 60 000 CFA
« Net » income 457 100 CFA 580 500 CFA
Income surplus/ha + 133 400 CFA
% income increase +27%
Yield improvement = +40%
Incremental income = +27%. $200 per hectare increase in incremental income.

In 2019/2020 the project will be extended to three cooperatives in Côte d’Ivoire. This example illustrates the concrete support UPL solutions can bring for the achievement of a sustainable cocoa production. Such yield increase and income generation in a short time period allows the cocoa industry to envision multiple opportunities for improved farmer resilience, reduced pressure on forests, farm rejuvenation, and income diversification.