Ir Arriba

Attractive Opportunities for Women in the Cacao Sector

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The global market is heading for an estimated $125b in chocolate sales by 2025. That’s a lot of chocolate!  Cacao production goes back several millennia and today involves thousands of small scale producers in Africa and the Americas, who typically sell the fermented dried beans for further processing into high value chocolate elsewhere.

Recently the cacao sector has been attracting women in various capacities along the value chain, particularly in the manufacturing of value-added cacao products. This is not necessarily an easy road though as challenges persist in the area of land tenure, access to finance, and endemic socio-cultural norms regarding women in business.   Initiatives such as the one conducted by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) have been making strides at the community level, by empowering women entrepreneurship in the Latin American and Caribbean region.

This was the storyline shared recently at the offices of Global Affairs Canada by the IICA Delegation in Canada,  that worked over the past two years, alongside counterpart Delegations in Peru and the Dominican Republic with women in cacao cooperatives.  The inspiring journey of a small women-operated cooperative in the Dominican Republic producing high quality, organic cacao products for the Canadian and American markets was sufficient to convince women in Peru who yearned to participate in the cacao value chain, that they too could succeed.

IICA not only facilitated face to face meetings with the women from both countries, but also packaged and shared the business model containing critical elements for a successful value-added cacao operation. Provided also with training in Good Agricultural and Manufacturing Practices to maintain Sanitary and Phytosanitary integrity of the products, as well as in chocolate making and business management, women in both countries were enthusiastic to play an important role in meeting export and local market demand for value-added cacao products.

The attractive and highly desired traits of the cacao products produced by these women include fine-flavoured, certified, organic, direct-sourced, sustainably produced, are all perfect for the mushrooming “bean to bar” niche market in Canada, the USA and Europe.  Fine-flavoured cacao is predominantly found in the Latin American and Caribbean region and with the world’s growing demand for this premium cacao, IICA aims to promote the replication of this successful model throughout cacao-producing countries of the Americas.

IICA is the Inter-American organization with a mandate for promoting productive, sustainable, and competitive Agriculture and rural development in the Americas.


For more information:

Audia Barnett, Representative of IICA Delegation in Canada