Initiative Result:

Peacebuilding co-benefits through Climate Action in Colombia’s Cacao sector

Strengthening the cocoa value chain: consolidating more resilient, competitive, and sustainable environmental, social, and economic systems.

In Colombia, strengthening the cocoa value chain not only boosts cocoa production and stimulates the economy but also promotes environmental sustainability and social development for peace building. Collaboration between public and private entities and communities has formalized processes, improved production, and helped preserve the environment. Coordination among key actors and a focus on climate-smart agriculture have been fundamental in contributing to rural, economic, equitable and sustainable development in the country.

For many years, the states of Cesar and Caquetá in Colombia have suffered severely from armed violence. This has led to forced displacement and a slowdown in various economic activities, with coordination between public and private entities and farmers’ associations to implement effective development plans in the cocoa value chain hindered.

A sustainable land use system (SLUS) project and CGIAR’s AgriLAC Resiliente and Low-Emission Food Systems Initiatives have worked together to i) consolidate and empower communities through cocoa committees; ii) coordinate interinstitutional interactions, and iii) formalize processes to position cocoa cultivation as an alternative way to reforest and restore degraded landscapes. These activities have supported land restitution and formalization, forest conservation, and the development of sustainable business models based on cocoa cultivation to increase carbon storage and improve rural livelihoods.

Establishing close coordination between the key local and national actors in Colombia’s cocoa sector was an imperative. The Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of the Environment, the Departmental Secretariats, the National Cocoa Council, the cocoa industry, research institutions, marketers and producers continue to work together to further scale and improve the value chain with a clear and sustainable strategic plan. In it, work continues to expand training in low-emissions practices, with a focus on sustainable land use systems such as cocoa agroforestry and silvopastoral production systems that can enhance people’s livelihoods while protecting their environments.

This process aims to reconcile climate-change mitigation objectives with development objectives, integrating i) the territorial approach, focused on local decisions on land use, and ii) the market approach, which considers the dynamics of the value chain and consumer decisions in sustainable food systems. This approach will continue to add the participation of more actors with compatible business models. In turn this will overcome identified farm- and value-chainlevel barriers, in addition to measuring the contribution to climatechange mitigation and peacebuilding in the country.

Promoting sustainable cocoa involves increasing its production and ensuring that it is done efficiently and sustainably. This includes
expanding distribution channels for certified plant material, which guarantees not only crop quality but also its long-term sustainability. Furthermore, the exchange of technical knowledge and institutional strengthening is crucial for identifying and prioritizing needs and establishing specific actions that contribute to the sustainable development of the region, thus fostering local economic growth and improving the livelihoods of cocoa farmers. By strengthening the coordination among actors in the production chain, a solid foundation is created that facilitates continuous strengthening and effective management. This strategic collaboration not only benefits farmers by improving their practices and increasing their productivity but also promotes sustainable practices and more responsible management of natural resources.

Thus, the sustainable development of crops and rural communities depends to a large extent on the promotion of economic activities such as cocoa cultivation carried out in productive and environmentally friendly ways. This requires not only efficient crop management but also institutional measures that strengthen infrastructure and generate equitable opportunities for all involved. By prioritizing sustainability and equity in rural development, we can build a more prosperous and harmonious future for communities, where agriculture and environmental conservation go hand in hand.

Cocoa has become an opportunity to generate income, to put down roots, and to start over—with more knowledge, more care for the environment, more sense of belonging and more trust in farmers, including those who were displaced by violence.

Jhon Jairo Hurtado. Researcher, Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT. Member of Work Package 3, AgriLAC Resiliente Initiative

Header photo: Sustainable cocoa innovation challenge. The Alliance.

CGIAR Centers

Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT


Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety of Germany (BMU); Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Colombia, Secretariat of Agriculture and Business Development of Cesar, Secretariat of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Development of Caquetá, Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT; Cocoa Growers, Producers and Processors Organizations, Production and Marketing Companies, Research, Training and Business Services Organizations, Public Sector Entities, and Provision Organizations of Agricultural Supplies in Cesar and Caquetá.