Deforestation-free supply chains: a PES pilot project in Côte d’Ivoire

  • Year

    2016 – 2019

  • Location

    Nawa region, Côte d’Ivoire

  • Partners

    Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development of Côte d’Ivoire, Mondelēz International, IMPACTUM

  • Budget

    EUR 150 000 (EU REDD Facility contribution)

  • Funded by

    EU REDD Facility, Mondelēz International


The EU REDD Facility engages with the Government of Côte d’Ivoire, the private sector and smallholders to support the development of deforestation-free cocoa production. The Facility supports partners to test an innovative incentive mechanism aimed at shifting cultivation practices while securing better livelihoods for smallholder cocoa farmers.

The objective

The objective of the EU REDD Facility is to support the Government of Côte d’Ivoire in building the enabling conditions for deforestation-free agricultural supply chains. The Facility partners with the National REDD+ Unit (SEP-REDD) of the Ministry in charge of the Environment, the multinational company Mondelēz and the Ivorian NGO IMPACTUM to support the implementation of the country’s national REDD+ Strategy.

This project takes places in the context of previous efforts of the EU REDD Facility and the UN-REDD Programme to assess the feasibility of a national Payment for Environmental Services (PES) scheme targeting smallholders implementing zero-deforestation practices. This assessment and stakeholder consultations held in 2015 led to the elaboration of a practical guide for PES implementation in Côte d’Ivoire.

In 2016, Mondelēz International, Côte d’Ivoire’s largest cocoa buyer, and the Government of Côte d’Ivoire entered into an innovative public-private partnership to test the practicalities of PES modalities and inform national policy. IMPACTUM facilitates implementation, with the support of the EU REDD Facility.

This project aims to improve agricultural productivity, food security and living conditions of cocoa farmers while preserving the remaining forests and conserving the biodiversity found in Mondelēz’s production basin. More specifically, its objectives are to:

  • Conserve remaining natural forests and restore classified and degraded forests
  • Promote agroforestry in cocoa farms to improve the resilience of cocoa plantations
  • Develop and plan sustainable land use
  • Improve the living conditions of cocoa farmers through agricultural diversification

“In 2015, I nearly lost my entire cocoa plantation [due to the drought], except in the areas where I had large trees. It was these trees’ shadow that saved the cocoa plants.”

The tree nurseries are managed by the local cooperatives, AVEC.

The challenge

Côte d’Ivoire’s deforestation rate is one of the highest in the world. The national forest cover dropped from 50% (16 million hectares) of the total country area in 1960 to 10% (3.4 million hectares) in 2016. The expansion of cocoa production is the key direct driver for this rapid forest cover loss.

Since 2014, Côte d’Ivoire has taken ambitious commitments to decouple cocoa production from deforestation and restore forest cover to 20% of its territory by 2030. Private companies have expressed their commitment to eliminate deforestation of their supply chains and contribute to the objective of restoring the Ivorian forest cover. Mondelēz International is contributing to these objectives through the environment pillar of its CocoaLife program.

Yet challenges to engage smallholder cocoa producers into sustainable practices, such as agroforestry or replantation, are many. Smallholder farmers, most of which live close to the poverty line, lack the financial capacity to invest in input or seedlings that would provide them increased yields or alternative revenues. Land tenure insecurity and illegal logging practices also hinder the introduction of trees in cocoa plantations, or the reforestation of degraded areas.

The approach

This project aims to contribute to forest cover restauration by promoting agroforestry, reforestation and conservation by mobilising and building support for local actors using a PES mechanism. The mechanism is based on voluntary contracts between local cocoa farmers or communities and the PES operator IMPACTUM to implement zero-deforestation activities in exchange of technical and financial support.

The first PES pilot project is being implemented in Mondelēz’s main supply basin in the Nawa region for three years (2016-2019). The project consists in incentivising local cocoa farmers and communities to engage in zero-deforestation activities, such as agroforestry, reforestation and conservation, through individual or community contracts. Incentives for smallholders combine: 1) access to input and seedlings, 2) technical support for plantation management, and 3) financial bonus when activities have been conducted with success. Community contracts are based on the provision of social infrastructure in exchange of successful reforestation or conservation actions.

Before implementing the pilot PES scheme, the project partners started by raising awareness and training cocoa producers and local communities on climate change, deforestation, the forest legal framework and PES. Secondly, they surveyed PES candidates and trained them on agroforestry techniques. Lastly, the different land uses were mapped in the project region to identify remaining forest areas and ensure the effective implementation of the PES scheme.

The local NGO IMPACTUM, contracted by Mondelēz and the Government as PES operator, is responsible for information dissemination, the creation of tree nurseries, tree caretakers training, the identification and survey of PES candidates, the signing of PES contracts, and follow-up on compliance through an established monitoring and evaluation framework.

Results and impact


  • The project started in 2017. As of October 2018, 156 agroforestry PES contracts have been signed, thereby covering a total area of about 600 hectares.
  • More than 800 cocoa farmers have expressed interest in participating in agroforestry.
  • Most PES candidates are interested in implementing agroforestry to increase the resilience of their plantations to droughts and to diversify their revenues, in a context of volatile cocoa prices.
  • Three nurseries with a total production capacity of 100 000 plants have been created to provide the necessary amount of seedlings for the project. Three local women cooperatives, AVEC, run these nurseries based on their previous involvement in microfinance through the livelihoods pillar of Mondelēz’s Cocoa Life program.
  • 611 cocoa farmers have received technical training on agroforestry practices, such as growing seedlings and caretaking of the trees. These trees give shade for the optimum growth of cocoa trees. By producing fruits or wood, they provide alternative sources of income for farmers.


  • The information phase and training sessions have raised the awareness of local farmers and communities of the role of forests and the negative impact of deforestation on cocoa farming.
  • The PES mechanisms allow farmers and communities to take action on deforestation while building resilience against climate change impacts.
  • Women have been trained and empowered through the creation and management of tree nurseries, which will bring them additional resources.
  • Smallholder farmers are diversifying their income and improving their livelihoods.
  • Lessons from this first pilot PES are feeding the national dialogue on the implementation of the PES policy and serve as a model for replication by other actors.

Smallholder cocoa farmers will be able to choose between several tree species, such as Tek.