Successful Strategies Identification


Exploring successful Ivorian cocoa farmer strategies to inform service design.

Côte d’Ivoire generates an average of 1.2 million tons of cocoa per year. This represents approximately 35% of the global cocoa market, making this small West African country the world’s largest producer of the treasured commodity. 

The Ivorian cocoa sector currently faces a multitude of problems, including aging trees and farmers (with an average age of 55), diseases like swollen shoot and brown rot, an insufficient supply of labor and many other issues that threaten the sustainability of cocoa.

The World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) and its leading members in the chocolate and cocoa industry are working with the Ivorian government to design a series of productivity and community development intervention programs that will reach 300,000 cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire and neighboring Ghana (also a significant cocoa producer) by 2020. On behalf of this strategy known as CocoaAction, WCF engaged INSITUM to conduct a qualitative study of successful farmers in Côte d’Ivoire. 


Our goals were to understand and document the characteristics and decision-making processes of successful farmers in Côte d’Ivoire and identify strategies and insights that could inform services and interventions for the general cocoa-farming population.

The Ivorian cocoa sector currently faces a multitude of problems that threaten the sustainability of cocoa.

World Cocoa Foundation


The INSITUM team started by conducting secondary research and in-depth interviews with key stakeholders and industry experts to identify existing knowledge and assumptions about cocoa farmers and key demographic information. We also used this portion of the study to identify the fieldwork sites and sample specifications. 

In the second phase of work, we conducted fieldwork in six communities across three regions. In each community, we conducted contextual research and observations, as well as qualitative individual interviews with successful cocoa farmers, other farm employees and household members. 

Finally, in each community, we conducted co-creation sessions with less successful farmers. We used a variety of visual note-taking methods, as many of the farmers were illiterate. During these sessions, we identified farmers’ perceptions of and barriers to success. In the end, we worked with these farmers to ideate on potential solutions to some of the barriers.

Cocoa Foundation


The INSITUM team synthesized general strategies for success across all of the successful farmers we interviewed. We also identified four different types of successful farmers, pinpointing specific strategies and pain points for each type. Finally, we analyzed the information from the co-creation groups in conjunction with the success strategies to highlight relevant opportunity areas and intervention ideas. The information uncovered in this study is now serving to inform the design of WCF’s productivity and community development intervention programs. 

For more information about WCF, visit CocoaAction website.