Organic cacao chain for development: the case of the Talamanca Small-Farmers Association


  • M. Slingerland
  • E. Díaz Gonzalez


Costa Rica and Panama both produce only small volumes of organic cacao. Some cocoa producers started production of organic banana. APPTA has to cope with market instability due to excess supply and with low local production due to biological threats. APPTA has to find a reliable buyer and either to increase the volume of cacao or to pool its production with the production realized by COCABO in Panama. This latter option will lead to a number of associated challenges such as harmonization of quality, organizing logistics, tracking and tracing, elaborating contracts between cooperatives etc. Developing new commercialization channels towards Europe reveals three options: APPTA sells beans directly to a Dutch buyer; APPTA sells beans to a Costa Rican processor who in turn exports semi-manufactured products to Dutch producers; or beans are processed by Costa Rican industry and APPTA commits to selling semimanufactured products to Dutch producers. Each of these three options has different repercussions on labelling, quality, environmental impact and profits. Additional options to improve livelihood of cacao farmers consist of diversification of the production at farm level and developing alternative sources of income, such as eco-tourism. The real challenge facing APPTA is to determine how to bring stakeholders with different interests and competencies together in an effective way to improve chain performance and to enhance farmers’ livelihoods.