In Sao Tome and Principe, IFAD helped turn around the dying smallholder cocoa sector, which had been suffering following the collapse of world market prices. Rather than focusing on conventional cocoa, which in economic terms continues to remain relatively unattractive for smaller producers, the Participatory Smallholder Agriculture and Artisanal Fisheries Development Programme set up public-private partnerships with overseas buyers of organic, fair trade cocoa of high quality.
Within a short time, these arrangements helped farmers establish export cooperatives and achieve stable and much improved incomes. Participating farmers need two years for their plots to be declared free of chemical fertilizer residues and to qualify for Ecocert© organic certifi cation. Technicians employed by one of the buyers, the National Agricultural Research Institute, and project staff have all been providing training for farmers in organic and conservation agriculture, solar drying, integrated pest management and other environmentally sustainable practices, as well as in cooperative management, cooperative-led extension and other services, and the principles of fair trade.
In Sierra Leone, a new initiative, the Rehabilitation and Community-Based Poverty Reduction Project Plus, is aiming to build on the Sao Tome and Principe experience and exploit the potential of growing markets for highquality organic, fair trade cocoa. The project will rehabilitate a 5,000-ha cocoa plantation abandoned during the war, and has already identifi ed as implementing partners the Millennium Cocoa Growers Cooperative and Bio United, both certifi ed 'organic' and exporting cocoa under the fair trade label. Activities include training of staff and farmers and support to the rehabilitation and improved management of plantations. Prices for good quality, certifi ed cocoa are less susceptible to market fl uctuations and this encourages further investment and assures sustainability. In addition to the extra income provided by intercropped plants, cocoa agroforestry systems support greater biodiversity and avoid the land degradation and erosion caused by slash-and-burn farming. A Least Developed Countries Fund grant from GEF will support the project through community-based climate change adaptation planning – in the form of direct investments in soil and water conservation, sustainable land management and erosion control.