Small-scale Cocoa Farming and Mechanisms of Access to Support Services Bridging Producers With High-Value Market Participation: A Comparative Analysis Between Ecuador & Peru
Cocoa , cocoa beans , access , small-scale farming , global value chain , agro-chain , Ecuador , Peru , producer organization
Worldwide over 5 million farmers cultivate cocoa beans from the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao) and rely on trade and export of cocoa for their livelihoods. This booming agricultural sector is led by small-scale farmers, 90% of whom have less than 5 hectares (ha) of land. The nexus of my research lies in examining how small-scale cocoa farmers’ access to HV markets is affected by different resources influencing their ability to participate in these exclusive, ‘specialty’ cocoa markets. I am using data from two Latin American countries, Ecuador and Peru, to compare findings and assess farmers’ needs towards stronger market integration. In this thesis, I compare how support services and sectoral intervention influence small-scale farmers’ access to high-value (HV) markets in Ecuador and Peru. This thesis addresses the following research question: How does access to different resources such as technical services and certification schemes influence small-scale farmers’ ability to participate in high-value cocoa markets differently between Ecuador and Peru? I assert that identified support services are crucial for small-scale farmers’ access to high-value (HV) market participation in both countries despite the differing power dynamics and social relationships involved in cocoa sector intervention in Ecuador and Peru. This thesis is informed by Gereffi’s (1994) Global Value Chain approach and grounded in the Theory of Access as defined by Ribot and Peluso (2003; 2020) and their conceptualization of access as it pertains to the cocoa agro-chain. This thesis research is based on the primary data from 30 interviews (13 from Ecuador and 17 from Peru), fieldwork notes, and country snapshots. The interviews were collected in 2019 for the ‘Maximizing Opportunities in Coffee and Cacao in the Americas’ (MOCCA) project, a 5-year initiative funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Findings indicate that both Ecuador and Peru benefit from significant state and external involvement and investment in the cocoa sector, but in terms of reaching small farmers with support, resources, and funding, Ecuador’s sector is more established and promotes from within, whereas Peru has become reliant on external intervention over the past few decades to catapult their cocoa into HV European markets.