tag cloud Sustainability Pests & Diseases Cacao Partnerships Agricultural biodiversity Livelihoods

No chocolate without viable cacao farms


Ninety percent of cacao comes from 5-6 million smallholder farmers in tropical Africa, Asia and Latin America, who supply an industry worth $US 8-10 billion a year; and worldwide demand is increasing. Yet the cacao industry is facing challenges. Many producers experience pest and disease outbreaks which threaten their livelihoods – around 30-40% of global production is lost due to pests and diseases.


As production is centred in some of the poorest parts of the world, securing higher yields that are sustainable can offer a viable pathway out of poverty for cacao growers. This requires access to improved cacao varieties that are resistant to pests and diseases and adapted to changing climatic conditions. The genetic diversity of cacao can increase income options available to smallholder farmers offering greater market options but its potential is little understood and under threat from environmental degradation and habitat destruction.


As part of a collaborative effort addressing these urgent needs and emerging opportunities, A Global Strategy for the Conservation and Use of Cacao Genetic Resources was published in 2012 by the Global Cacao Genetic Resources Network (CacaoNet), coordinated by Bioversity International.


“We consulted widely with experts from all sectors of the global cacao community to develop this strategy,” says Brigitte Laliberté, Bioversity International. “Now we have an informed and realistic foundation for prioritizing cacao genetic resources research to help meet farmers’ needs.”


This work is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry and is supported by the US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA/ARS), The Cocoa Research Association Ltd. UK (CRA Ltd.), Mars Inc. and The World Cocoa Foundation (WCF).



Photo: Cacao diversity, Ghana - Credit: Bioversity International/J. Raneri