Dominican Republic: Sustainable Cocoa

 

Now fully handed over to the government, GCP helped set-up and initally facilitated the National Cocoa Platform in the Dominican Republic.

"Dominican Republic produces some of the world’s best cocoa. We are the largest exporter of certified organic cocoa in the world", remarked Ángel Estévez Boudier in 2017, the Dominican Republic’s President of the National Cocoa Commission.

Indeed, this esteemed national crop is also the main source of livelihood for 40,000 smallholder families in the country, as well as the many other domestic actors on the processing, transport and export sides of the cocoa value chain.

Cocoa is an important generator of foreign income in the Dominican Republic’s economy, and its role in the nation’s economic development continues to be evermore significant. In the 2014/15 production cycle, the country exported dry cocoa beans worth about $261.5 million, undergoing a 19.4% increase compared to 2013/14.

With that said, the poor quality of life that characterises the producer communities of the national agricultural sector is posing a great risk to the sector’s long-term viability. Coupled with outdated agricultural practices and minimal government support, cocoa producers are often confronted with the slippery slope of running out of financial means to invest in their plots and ultimately fall into poverty. By default, the younger generations of cocoa producers are left deterred from involving themselves in the industry, and the Dominican Republic faces a grave threat on the sustainability of its high-value agricultural produce.

Recognizing the need to address these key sustainability challenges, the UNDP Green Commodities Programme and the Government of the Dominican Republic intervened in 2013 to establish the National Cocoa Platform. By coordinating not just the Ministry of Agriculture, National Cocoa Commission and the relevant government entities but also the cocoa producers, cooperatives, exporters, international NGOs and research institutions, the Platform validated a 10-Year Cocoa National Action Plan in 2015, following the Programme’s signature process (see Our Focus).

Now in full operation for the period of 2017-2027, the 10-Year National Action Plan is upheld by three main pillars:

-       boosting farm profitability,

-       strengthening the sector’s multi-stakeholder collaboration,

-       and enhancing the well-being of all actors of the nation’s cocoa community.

Fast forward to 2019, various private sector stakeholders in the Dominican Republic have also  adopted the National Action Plan. Moreover, as a continuation of the National Cocoa Platform, the country has launched and embraced the World Cocoa Foundation, which promotes public-private investments, regular dialogue on inclusive public policy, and has continued GCP’s Multi-Stakeholder Collaboration for Systemic Change approach to sustainable commodity production.