While cocoa is the main source of income for most farmers in our Lindt & Sprüngli Farming Program, other sources of income are critical for farmers' livelihoods.
The term income diversification often comes up in relation to the Lindt & Sprüngli Farming Program. But what does it actually mean, and to what extent does it have an impact on our farmers in the Farming Program?
One of the goals of the Lindt & Sprüngli Farming Program is to create resilient livelihoods for farmers, their families and the communities. Therefore, in addition to training and education on cocoa cultivation, our field staff also support the farmers in other areas that help them in their daily lives. One of these areas is called income diversification. This involves showing the farmers how they can expand and develop additional sources of income. This is important because cocoa is a seasonal crop and many farmers have small farms, making it difficult for them to rely only on their income from cocoa.
From honey farming to pig breeding
By definition, on-farm income diversification is a means of both increasing income and reducing dependence on a single crop. Diversification can benefit farmers and the ecosystem. If integrated into the cocoa farm, increased crop diversity in agriculture can benefit biodiversity, pollination, pest control, the nutrient cycle, soil fertility, and water regulation.
In all our countries of origin for cocoa, training is offered as part of the Lindt & Sprüngli Farming Program to generate additional or alternative sources of income. In Ecuador, for example, farmers expand their income through bee keeping and raising pigs in addition to cocoa. In Madagascar, income diversification is also promoted with the rearing of small livestock and honey production, and they also learn to grow ginger and vanilla. In Ghana and Ivory Coast, trainings are combined with other key interventions that facilitate access to capital for farmers to start diversifying their income sources. These include the creation of Village Saving & Loan Associations and the establishment of a revolving start-up capital fund, through which farmers access loans at minimal interest rates.
Production of own cocoa products
Another way to add value to the cocoa crop is through on-farm or cooperative chocolate production and the utilization of cocoa by-products (e.g. pulp and shells). In Ecuador, for example, many farmers produce jam from the cocoa pulp or sell its juice in supermarkets or on tourist tours. When visiting cocoa farmers, it is very common to receive a self-made hot chocolate drink from the family.
In Ghana, more and more local companies are processing cocoa beans into powder, mainly for local consumption. Innovative companies such as KOA turn the fruit into juice and sugar. This creates local employment and an additional income source for farmers.
A law prohibits Ghanaian farmers from processing their own cocoa beans into chocolate. However, some farmers use parts of the cocoa fruit to turn it into traditional “black soap” to sell at local markets. The black soap consists of the ash of cocoa pods and is naturally antiseptic.