Madagascar, off Africa's south east coast, is one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world. Despite a wealth of natural resources the country remains one of the world's poorest. Ranked 154th out of 187 countries in the UN 2015 Development Report, more than half of children under the age of five are chronically malnourished. Over 80% of the population - some 20 million people - live in rural areas and 92% live on less than $2 a day.
Farming forms the backbone of Madagascar's economy but production remains very low. The main barriers include limited access to agricultural inputs; poor post-harvest techniques (for value addition); and a lack of access to markets.
Piloting a new approach in the cocoa sector
In response to these challenges, in 2015, the Aga Khan Foundation began piloting a cocoa value chain initiative in Madagascar's northern Diana region. Its aim is to improve the quality of cocoa and demonstrate to private sector buyers that the Diana region has the potential to become a significant producer of quality cocoa. In doing so, over time this initiative aims to increase exports and, ultimately, raise the incomes for thousands of farmers. Initially, working alongside 125 farmers, the programme is focusing on three key initiatives.
3 INITIATIVES TO INCREASE FARMER INCOMES
1. Renewing the ageing stock of cocoa trees
By supporting the creation of nurseries at the household level, AKF helps ensure that better quality cocoa is grown, in turn, generating greater demand. AKF is working with farmers to increase the production of the better quality Criollo and Trinitario beans which are particularly aromatic, lacking in bitterness and in great demand.
2. Improving orchard management practices and post-harvest value-added activities
3. Connecting farmers with markets