Final Report to the World Cocoa Foundation
2008-2009 Cocoa Innovations Challenge Grant
“Using innovative educational exchanges to increase cocoa
production and quality in Ecuador”
I. Executive Summary
The purpose of this project was to develop an innovative training methodology to address the
lack of adoption of production and post-harvest technologies by farmers despite their importance in
improving cocoa quality, price, and, theoretically, farmers‟ livelihoods. It was hypothesized that the
dominant transfer of technology training methods often fail because they do not connect to farmers‟
reality. Thus, the project devised a tour where farmers would learn from other farmers and see with
their own eyes different management techniques, both in the field and at the administrative level of the
growers‟ association (GA). Additionally, the farmers would visit actors in the supply chain to get a
better sense of how they themselves fit into the cocoa sector based on their own.
This project‟s innovative methodology of educational tours addressed the lack of
communication and knowledge-sharing among actors in the Ecuadorian cocoa sector. Many GAs have
shared experiences, but each one of these groups varies somewhat in its history, approaches, failures
and successes. Thus, these associations are unnecessarily “re-creating the wheel” making the same
mistakes and wasting time creating infrastructure, systems and procedures from scratch without taking
advantage of their neighbor‟s precedents and relevant experience. Additionally, many small-scale cocoa
farmers do not have a clear understanding of the entire chain of cocoa production, especially the
processes beyond selling their raw product. This knowledge could help them understand the
importance of caring for their cocoa, producing a quality product, and effective commercialization and
The tours proved to be a success in reaching farmers. They facilitated relationships that will
foster future collaborations. Participants gained a much greater appreciation and understanding of the
entire chain of production and the importance of their role within it. They were motivated to take
leadership roles to share what they learned with their communities. In general, the experience helped
the farmers understand how their quality control, GA participation and production practices affects the
reputation of their GA and Ecuadorian cocoa in general in the market. This will be instrumental in
helping poor farmers to strengthen farmer groups and organizations and increase cocoa quality,
production, and market linkages.
Thus, there is a huge potential for a free-flow of valuable, proven information that will increase
the efficiency and quality of cocoa production. The empowerment of small-scale cocoa farmers and
associations through participative learning and knowledge exchange will increase cocoa quality, farmer
income, and ultimately improve the quality of life for cocoa farming families.
Ecuador is known for unique fine flavour cocoa that is principally grown by small-scale poor farmers.
Cocoa is a native tree crop that provides important environmental services such as soil conservation,
carbon sequestration and is usually grown organically. Moreover, fine flavour cocoa is an important
high value cash crop for farmers with a market that is growing. However, the reputation of Ecuadorian
cocoa is threatened by poor or uneven varietal selection, production and post-harvest techniques.
There is a need for more unity among the sector to ensure that Ecuador realizes its immense potential.
This will ultimately benefit farmers in real ways as they are able to fetch higher prices with their quality
and increase their yield to meet demand.Therefore, it is important that Ecuadorian farmers adopt
proper techniques to ensure future market sustainability and growth.
Many growers‟ associations have been working with development organizations for years to
improve production (selection of genetic material, planting, pruning), post harvest (drying, fermenting,
classification), and organizational capacity (pricing, logistics, certification, internal system of control).
However, the process of fully training a growers‟ association and its farmers is long, costly, and often
not entirely successful because they are run by outsiders or are not participative. The “farmer field
school” methodology where farmers “learn by doing” often over a period of six months within the
same growers‟ association (GA) have been successful. Yet, often within a region there is not enough
expertise to observe change, thus farmers would benefit by visiting other farmers at other growers‟
associations. Similarly, most of the post harvest and all of the organizational activities are carried out by
the administration of the GAs who often struggle with different techniques such as proper
fermentation or traceability.
Conservacion y Desarrollo has worked for over 9 years in cocoa training activities and even
helped adapt the Farmer Field School methodology to cocoa in Ecuador. We have worked closely with
certification entities, especially Rainforest Alliance and organic, GAs, the private sector (including large
and artisanal chocolate makers in Ecuador, the U.S. and Europe), national and international cocoa
advocacy and research groups (including TCC, WCF, CIRAD, ICCO, ANECACAO, INIAP, USDA)
and national and international donors (including USAID, GTZ, CGIAR, CORPEI). Our activities
principally take place in Ecuador, but we have also worked in Peru, Bolivia, Central America, the Ivory
Coast and attended international cocoa meetings in Europe, the U.S., Latin America and Africa, so we
feel that we have a good sense of the problems and existing work being done.
III. Methodology and Materials
The methodology of the tour closely followed what was outlined in the original grant. Namely we
picked three GAs based on our knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses. During the tour the
participants would spend 2 days at the other GA, one day with farmers and the second day at the
collection center and administrative office. They also visited INIAP (national research institute cocoa
department), ANECACAO (national cocoa advocacy organization), COFINA and Transmar (large
exporters) and Pacari and Ecuadoriana de Chocolate (artisanal chocolate makers). Below there are
more detailed descriptions of each stop.
Farmer to Farmer Exchanges:
One of the most valuable aspects of the educational tours was the farmer to farmer interactions,
providing horizontal learning and idea exchange during the days the groups spent visiting the individual
farms of GAs from different regions. In this way the farmers could compare the realities on their own
farms and learn from the other farmers‟ failures and successes. The farmers witnessed and practiced
techniques that might not have yet been
adopted in their area such as various pruning
techniques, removing diseased pods, separating
CCN51 from national varieties, using positive
selection to pick trees to reproduce and using
grafting to produce new plants. The participants
shared a sense of common experience, but also
the idea that there are multiple ways to
effectively produce cocoa according to the local
environment, inputs, tools and experience.
Structured learning/exchange activities:
Hands-on at the local GA member farms
The local GA leaders presented and facilitated discussion of the farm-based themes in the large group.
Then, to facilitate hands-on practice and small group exchange and interaction the group was split
evenly into 3 smaller groups, each with a mix of visitors, local farmers and technicians and a set of
necessary tools. For example, pruning was the first theme addressed at a local farm. The farm-owner
gave a short demonstration of how to prune an old, tall tree, and then the 3 small groups had 30
minute to prune a tree together. They used a variety of approaches to organize the pruning process.
The groups all divided the work and were reluctant to stop when the time was up. Everyone
participated actively in the observation and comments session afterwards, joking about awards and
penalties for worst and best pruned trees. A different example of this exercise took place in the
Amazon. The visiting GA from the coast that had more technical production training helped
demonstrate and discuss the best pruning practices for the local farmer to adopt.
Other themes addressed and practiced included selecting branches for grafting, practicing a variety of
grafting techniques at the nursery and surveying their farm to predict future production. Following
every exercise, there were questions and a discussion of best practices and comparisons of methods in
the Amazon and on the Coast (age of trees, growing season, specific pruning techniques).
Observation and learning about post harvest and organizational structure in local GA Centers
Participants shared ideas and witnessed a variety of methods for best fermentation and drying practices
while factoring in local climatic conditions. Each GA shared how their system and organization of
membership leadership functioned. They all discussed ways to address the important challenge of
outreach to all of the members of the GA, especially the most distant and isolated. One of the GA had
an on-site quality control laboratory on-site at the collection center. The visitors were often impressed
with and inspired by the differences of the organization and systematization of all the processes
overseen at the collection centers and offices. During one of the visits, the leaders of both GAs
discussed the possibility of sending a GA member as an intern to better learn management and post
Importance of non-structured interactions:
Social interactions among the different GA members functioned to cement and expand upon the
structured interactions and create more connections to lay the groundwork for future collaboration and
cooperation. Many connections were made during shared meals accompanied by conversations about
cultural differences (food and holidays) in their respective regions. The Cultural Nights were filled with
lively dancing, chatting, sharing of regional songs, sayings, jokes, and foods. Everyone left with new
contacts and promises of future visits and cooperation.
Another example was the afternoon at the beach after a hot morning in the field where some frolicked
in the waves, an opportunity the Amazonian Napo river doesn‟t provide. Two of the older women in
the group had never been to the ocean and cautiously approached it, leaned over, dipped in their
fingers for a taste- yes it IS salty.
The second innovation involves the issue of establishing a high level of quality for Ecuadorian cocoa
and reaching lucrative markets. Many farmers and GAs do not see the connection between their
practices and how it affects the price of their product and other products along the supply chain.
Likewise, they do not understand how factors such as supply and demand and quality impact price. By
visiting actors along the supply chain, farmers can get a sense for what is happening at a national level
with cocoa, how chocolate is made, quality assessment and the costs that are associated with each step.
This will allow GAs to better position themselves with buyers and realize that the reputation of
Ecuadorian cocoa in general suffers when proper care is not taken with production and post-harvest.
Chocolate Factory Visits: Ecuatoriana de Chocolates, Pacari
The participants were very interested and curious about the chocolate-making process that
most of them had never seen before. The tour itself made an impression with the complexity of the
chocolate making processes and how important the quality of the initial product is to making superior
chocolate. For example, the factory manager explained to the group specific ways to improve their
product based on the fact that she had to send back their last contaminated shipment. The participants
were concerned and attentive to her suggestions as she stressed the importance of quality control from
the beginning of the cocoa chain of production.
The manager of the factory also explained her belief that a drying area made of cement is the
best kind because its increased temperature dries the cocoa faster and keeps the incidence of bacteria
lower than a wood drying area that absorbs and spreads bacteria. The participants took this message
seriously as they continued to ask at every subsequent stop what material was best for the drying area
and why. This demonstrated their learning in action, and ability for critical thinking, especially in a
setting where they could get more than one expert opinion.
The brief visit to the office of a chocolate company that produces its own bars for export in
Ecuador focused on the variety of flavors and flavor profiles of cocoa from different regions even
within Ecuador. The speakers also emphasized the importance of strong organizational structure and
post-harvest processing to a GA‟s success.
Exporters in Guayaquil:
The tour guides led the group along the path the cocoa takes once it is bought from the grower or
intermediary and enters the Cofina compound. All of the participants commented and asked about
Cofina‟s cement drying area. The participants were fascinated by the huge, loud machines that classify
bean sizes, and sort out stray trash. They all took turns sifting through and examining handfuls of
different sized waste and cocoa in sacks below the machines. Everyone was surprised and impressed
that they sell the „trash‟ to use in cattle feed. They also had the opportunity to taste the cocoa paste
from their own regions and in some cases compare it to other regions. During one visit, they learned
firsthand how bitter and acidic their GA‟s cocoa tastes due to lack of proper fermentation. This
spurred a conversation about better practices and the imminent need to take leadership roles to
improve the quality of their product.
The second visit was a tour of the Transmar facility in Guayaquil. This visit provided the opportunity
to compare techniques, machinery and processes with those of Cofina. Once again, the participants
were impressed by the large, loud machines and
the quantity of cocoa processed at the facility.
They were also amazed by the quantities of cocoa
and discussion of the annual exports just within
INIAP (Instituto Nacional Autonomo de
The hands-on participatory learning left the
biggest impression on the participants. The
participants helped take a humidity measure
during the toasting process, peeling, and grinding
some of their GA‟s own cocoa sample. Tasting
and comparing their own cocoa samples provided
a very concrete way to understand the huge differences production and post harvest practices have on
the quality of the product. After a few rounds of tasting and analyzing different samples they gained
confidence in their tasting abilities.
For more hands-on learning the, the participants divided into small groups, each with guidance
of a laboratory assistant. They learned the different characteristics of the hybrid CCN 51 variety and
“nacional” varieties and practiced separating them. The small groups also did “cut tests” to identify the
amount of fermentation the beans had undergone. Most had never performed either of these tasks and
were actively participating, referring back to the helpful take-home information sheets INIAP
The final activity was a visit to an experimental plot guided by a researcher. They asked a
stream of questions about the variety of cocoa, its age, how he cares for it, the reasoning behind his
experimental design as they wandered, observing the plots.
Monitoring and Evaluation
The main change was is the monitoring and evaluation strategy. Instead of relying on secondary
literature and focus groups, we decided to do baseline and end line surveys of the people on the tour,
as well as baseline of a sub-population of the GAs. There was also a feedback and learning meeting
after the tour where the participants shared their results with the GA. Since we had not originally
budgeted for these activities, we were able to group some of the survey and meeting activities with
another project CyD is executing with funds from a World Bank Development Marketplace grant.
In total, 171 farmer baseline surveys were collected, as well as 14 administrator baseline surveys.
Thirty-five end line surveys were collected for tour participants as well as 24 more for non-participants.
In total 112 people participated in the 3 feedback sessions. The results listed in the next session are
reflective of the following sample sizes:
The total membership of GA#1 is 200, we did 64 baseline surveys and 12 end line.
The total membership of GA#2 is 84 people we did a baseline of 64 and an end line of 12.
The total membership of GA#3 is 250, we did 64 baseline surveys plus 12 end lines.
The initial survey was modified after the first baseline was taken to provide better information
and simplify the language. The methodology of the survey was for two experts from CyD to spend 3-4
days in each association training the GA‟s promoters in how to do surveys by doing about 20 together.
Then the promoters would do the rest before the educational tour as a baseline. The surveys had
quantitative and qualitative elements and took about 30 minutes each (see Annex 1).
In the future this process would have gone better if it had been factored into the budget to pay
the promoters for their time and there was a formal training session for the promoters. The farmers
who were surveyed included the 12 who would participate in the tour plus a random as possible sample
of the rest of the GA. After the tour was finished the 12 participants took the survey again. Then 1-3
months later there was a meeting at each GA, facilitated by CyD, where the farmers from the tour
would share their observations and learning from the tour with other members from the GA. During
this feedback session the results of the baseline and end line survey were also shared with the
community as well as a slideshow with photos. The purpose of this meeting was to return information
to the community, empower the participants as leaders and share and disseminate learning. In the
future, another great tool would be participative video, where the participants could share the videos
that they made during the tour. In general these meetings were very well received and generated a lot of
enthusiasm to try new techniques. Again, in the future we would plan for these feedback meetings
from the beginning to include them in the budget and try to get an even greater turnout of GA
The materials used for the tours included machetes and clippers as well as notebooks and pens.
Digital and small video cameras for the participants would have been helpful too.
Below is the extent of impact to date on the deliverables put forth in the original project:
1. Increased cocoa yield (spacing, pruning, varieties, grafts, disease management,)
All of these methods take 1-3 years to bear fruit, literally. However in the end line survey and
discussion we found ample support that knowledge of how to use these techniques and their value was
Specifically we have the following results:
GA#1 is relatively small and new and has not received much outside training. After the tour 75% of
the participants plan to expand their cocoa planting or change their trees. Currently 84% of the trees
are planted from seed which greatly increases the risk for monilla (Monilia roreri) so knowledge and use
of grafts is essential. Finally, after the tour and during the discussion with the whole GA, they
manifested that they want to concentrate on improving pruning and grafting in the upcoming year.
Pruning is of great importance because 100% of the trees show signs of the two major fungal diseases:
witches broom (Basidiomiceto Crinipellis perniciosa) and monilla.
GA#2 is large and has received a lot of outside training over the years. 84% said they planned to
expand their planting before the tour, 100% after.
60% grafts Before
40% Knowledge of
20% grafts After
GA#1 GA#2 GA#3
2. Increased cocoa profit (move more volumes, better prices, stable markets)
GA#1: Before the tour 79% of participants said they preferred to sell at a stable price year round to the
GA, even if sometimes it is below market price, after 100% said the same.
3. Improved cocoa quality (fermentation, drying, no mixing)
GA#1: 86% did not know the steps for fermentation before, 100% knew them after, 9% did not know
the benefits of fermentation before, 100% afterwards; 84% didn‟t dry before, 100% believe it is
GA#3: Before the tour 64% dried their cocoa under the cover of a “marquesina” or covered area, after
100% recognized this as the best method.
80% between CCN51
60% varieties Before
40% Know the
0% and Nacional
GA#1 GA#2 GA#3 varieties After
100% Knowldege of cut
80% test to assess
40% Knowldege of cut
test to assess
GA#1 GA#2 GA#3
4. Better ability to negotiate sales (know market and production segments)
GA#1: Before the tour none of the farmers knew how much cocoa Ecuador exports annually, two
months after the tour 60% still remembered the figure, which helps them contextualize their relative
power (or lack thereof) in negotiating prices.
GA#2: Interestingly, before the tour most farmers were interested in receiving more training on grafts
and pruning as they had in the past, but after the tour they were most interested in learning more about
commercialization and markets. GA#2 was very impressed with GA#3‟s marketing savvy and learned
a lot about branding and negotiating directly with the final client.
GA#3: Before the tour 44% of the members surveyed did not know of what factors influenced cocoa
price, after the survey 100% knew of important factors (e.g. certification, quality, aroma tied to
fermentation, nacional varieties that are well selected.)
Knowledge of cocoa
60% value chain Before
40% Knowledge of cocoa
20% value chain After
GA#1 GA#2 GA#3
5. Improved Internal Systems of Control (better records, traceability, organizational structure,
One of the main objectives of the tour was not only to have farmer to farmer exchange, but also
administrator to administrator exchange. Unfortunately, the administrator representatives of the GA
with the weakest administration, GA#1, did not show up for the tour. However the other participants
from GA#1 were impressed with the administration they saw at GA#2 and want to do a sustained
internship at GA#2.
GA#2: Before the tour 58% sold to intermediaries, afterwards 40% did.
One thing that all of the GAs took away from the visit to the two chocolate makers was that the end
buyers prefer to buy from associations and that it is important for them to strengthen them.
Overall outcomes listed in grant proposal:
3 educational tours including exchanges and supply chain viewing
Hands on exchange of information
Better ability to negotiate volumes and prices
The first two outcomes were certainly achieved. The third one is too difficult to measure so soon after
the tours. We will measure it at the end of the World Bank project in October of 2011.
Outputs listed in grant proposal:
Increased know-how from other‟s experiences
Change in practices based on lessons learned during educational tour or with contact with other
The results of the baseline and end line surveys as well as feedback sessions show that both of these
outputs did occur.
V. Next Steps/Dissemination of Information
We found the innovation to be very successful, the tours served as a mechanism to inspire and
educate farmers. Really this was two innovations in one. The first was farmer-to-farmer or
administrator-to- administrator education across geographical areas. The second was farmers and
administrators visiting the different actors in the supply chain. These two methodologies can be scaled
up across Ecuador, the region (Venezuela, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia), the continent (Central
America, Brazil and the Caribbean) and in Africa. All of these cocoa producing countries face
challenges with quality control, post-harvest practices and grower association organization. Moreover,
this methodology could be applied to other crops. One of the key mechanisms is how the people who
participate in the tour are selected and how they spread their learning to the rest of the GA. We let the
GAs pick their representatives, stressing the importance of looking for leaders, women and young
people from a variety of different communities. The idea is that the participants will go back and
spread what they learned, through informal conversation and example, to the rest of the GA. We found
that it was necessary to have a formal debriefing session with the entire GA so everyone can hear from
the participants. Once the GA sees the benefits of the tour, they are excited to participate in future
The WCF is an excellent mechanism to spread this methodology through its works with many
cocoa growing countries and associations. The WCF could help leverage funds from large donors to
finance this kind of initiative and spread the methodology among GAs. One way the results are being
spread is through future CyD projects, we have incorporated some of the same GAs into the World
Bank project to help fund the feedback sessions and additional surveying. We have also applied to the
Nestle Foundation Prize to scale up this methodology to all of the GAs across Ecuador. We would like
to publish the results in a magazine such as LEISA once an appropriate issue comes out. We will also
send a press bulletin on the project to our cocoa mailing list, if the full report is posted on the WCF
website we will link to that. However, we will also be writing up the experience in Spanish so it can be