“We Learned Simple Ways to Improve the Local Environment and our Income”

Author Amoin Assahoure

Farmer and President
VSLA of Assawlekro, Côte d'Ivoire
Photo by Mondelēz International

In the Nawa region in Côte d’Ivoire, Mondelēz International’s Cocoa Life partners with Impactum and CARE International to engage women and address climate change and deforestation through a Green Entrepreneurship pilot project. They are helping women learn the knowledge and skills needed to create a sustainable future for cocoa farming communities, and generate income for themselves and their communities. Nursery workers have an income related to the sale of the seedlings. They also have a role in increasing the awareness around the topic of climate change, in their communities.

As a cocoa farmer, I find it very difficult to earn a decent living from cocoa. Due to drought and poor access to water, keeping my farm productive is a constant challenge.

To help us overcome these challenges, Cocoa Life, CARE International and Impactum collaborated to empower women in our community. CARE supported us in setting up a women’s group, and they encouraged us to turn it into a Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA). This project was very helpful to us women. We were able to save more money and access loans in difficult times.

Photo by Mondelēz International

Impactum invited us to several awareness campaigns to talk about the importance of safeguarding the forests. With their help, we learned about the effect of deforestation, and the consequences of the consequences of climate change.

Our women’s group worked with Impactum and CARE to develop a green entrepreneurship program with our VSLA group sitting at its heart. The project, which is part Payments for Environmental Services (PES) projects with reforestation and agroforestry, supported the creation of nurseries to grow shade tree seedlings such as mahogany and acacia, which grow into larger trees essential for a healthy forest. We learned that shade trees are a very effective way to combat climate change and improve productivity. They protect cocoa plants from heat and water stress; enhance soil fertility; reduce soil erosion; improve pollination; naturally control pests and diseases; and support reforestation. The plants we grow and sell also bear fruits, providing another source of income.

Thanks to the Cocoa Life program and guidance from CARE and Impactum, there are now three shade tree nurseries in our region. Our team of 15 women earn an income from the business. Together we will produce 150,000 trees. Once planted on farms, they will promote rain and directly increase the cocoa production for our husbands. We will also be able to sell their fruits and timber to increase our earnings and improve our livelihoods.

We continue to participate in the different community meetings, and encourage women to take part in the project. I now know how important it is for us to spread awareness around the importance of preserving our environment, and helping to combat climate change.”

We know climate change and deforestation are colossal challenges, but we can make a difference by working with Cocoa Life to empower women to drive change in cocoa communities. Our efforts have helped teach environmentally responsible farming and conservation of existing forests around cocoa plantations. This will contribute to improving resilience and farmers' living conditions. We are committed to helping cocoa communities in Côte d'Ivoire grow a sustainable future.

Jean-Michel Brou Executive Director & Country Director, Impactum, Côte d'Ivoire

This blog was originally posted on Mondelēz International’s cocoalife.org