Pathways for closing the income gap for cocoa farming households in Côte d’Ivoire, a segmented approach


Anna Laven, Rik Habraken, Cedric Steijn

In 2015, Nestlé launched a program focusing on the ‘better-off farmers’, called the Elite Farmer program. The ‘elite farmers’ were hand-picked from ordinary farmers in villages, based on a number of selection criteria, and intensively trained and coached. The aim was to empower elite farmers to unleash their potential, both in cocoa production and in alternative income generating activities, ultimately achieving a living income and becoming a lighthouse for others.

In 2019, Nestlé asked KIT to conduct a study to learn more about the outcomes of the Elite program so far, with the assumption that Elite farmers would perform better than other members of the Nestlé Cocoa Plan (NCP). It was thought that we could learn from them and identify:

  • Characteristics of elite farmers that explain performance.
  • Potential combinations of interventions, which are successful in closing the living income gap.
  • Other ‘high-potential’ farmer segments within the NCP member base that would benefit from a customized approach, including tailored intervention packages that meet their specific needs and aspirations.

The end goal was to develop pathways that demonstrate how a significantly larger proportion of NCP farmers can potentially achieve a living income and to provide actionable recommendations for Nestlé.

This report shares the learnings from the Elite program, both in terms of farmer’s characteristics and performance, as well as the contribution of the program to living income. It also dives deeper into the drivers of productivity and LI, and helps determine effective intervention strategies for the wider base of Nestlé farmers.