Nitidae female cocoa farmer


Developing sustainable cocoa farming models

Protect and restore forests and ecosystems

Reduce hunger and poverty, and improve livelihoods

Africa and Middle East


UN Sustainable Development Goals

No poverty
Zero hunger
Quality education
Decent work and economic growth
Life on land
Partnerships for the goals

The issue

Ivory Coast and Ghana produce 60 percent of the world’s cocoa. In Ivory Coast, it accounts for 14 percent of the country’s GDP, and 40 percent of its export earnings.

Older Cocoa plantations – especially those more than 25 years old - are seeing falling yields linked to poor land management. 

Cocoa producing communities are often solely reliant on the income generated from their cocoa crop. And yet, despite chocolate being a high value item, many cocoa growers live below the $2 per day poverty line, creating economic and social challenges for communities.

Environmental pressures also exist. The expansion of cocoa production has contributed to the loss of 80 percent of the forest in Ivory Coast since the 1960s. 

But there are ways to modernise cocoa production that can benefit both farmers and the environment, with some commercial companies presenting new products and cultivation practices as solutions. These solutions, coupled with improved farming models, have the potential to create wide-scale economic, environmental, agronomic and social benefits.

Improving cocoa production practices might also lead to more fundamental changes such as providing opportunities to grow other crops to diversify income streams or implement more sustainable practices such as agroforestry.

To turn this opportunity into reality, more independent trials of holistic approaches that combine new products and methodologies are needed on the ground in the cocoa producing communities of West Africa. 


Nitidæ is a French non-profit association with a mission to design, develop and lead projects that preserve the environment while contributing to the local economy.

Nitidæ was formed in December 2017 following the merger of Rongead - an NGO founded in 1983 with a focus on international trade and sustainable development, and Etc Terra – a social enterprise created in 2012 to create environmentally-sustainable economic projects in developing countries.

The merged organisation has expertise in improving the performance of agricultural value chains to increase producers’ incomes and operating field projects that combine the preservation of natural resources and dynamic sustainable economy in rural territories. This wide knowledge-base enables integrated, innovative solutions for rural territories in Africa.

Nitidæ has an operational team of 100 people, including economists, engineers, agronomists, forestry specialists, geographers, soil carbon scientists and geographic information system and remote sensing experts. They are currently engaged on around fifty projects across Madagascar, Burkina Faso, Mozambique and Ivory Coast. 

These experts also provide technical expertise to agro-food industries and cosmetics companies that want to improve the performance of their agricultural value chains and mitigate their environmental impact (for example, by carbon offsetting). This has the wider benefit of preserving natural resources, promoting energy efficiency and stimulating local economic development in conjunction with producers.

Find out more about Nitidae’s work on their website

The project

Croda Foundation has awarded a grant of £233,511 to Nitidae for a project supporting the development of sustainable cocoa farming in the main agro-ecological regions of the Ivory Coast - Adzopé, Daloa and Soubré.

There are two planned stages for the project. Firstly, the aim is to create an independent network of trials with real farmers to develop innovative and sustainable cocoa farming models. It will create cocoa farming models and improve local farmers with field trials undertaken under real farmers’ condition. 

The knowledge created will be shared through training for co-operative technicians, distribution of technical tools for farmers and the creation of teaching and learning materials. A series of technical papers and newsletters are also planned to disseminate the knowledge to local farmers, reaching members of local co-operatives including the Société Cooperative Simplifiee des Producteurs de Cacao Biologique de la Me (SCOOPS.PCBM), the Entreprise Coopérative Kimbre (ECOOKIM), Entreprise Cooperative Des Agriculteurs De Meagui (ECAM) and (SOTAK CATANA).

The second project phase, planned to take place from DATE, will involve Nitidae regenerating old cocoa plantations (usually more than 25 years old) that are seeing falling yields linked to poor land management. 

Using the knowledge of Nitidae and its partners in Ivory Coast, 50 hectares of cocoa plantations will be targeted with regenerative practices and agroforestry, leading to more sustainable production, directly impacting 200 farmers. In turn, this can prevent further deforestation by preventing the need for expansion into neighbouring rich forest soils. 

The project will also contribute to better land management in Ivory Coast, preserving forest cover, carbon storage, biodiversity and soil health. Nitidae will measure the impact from an agronomic, economic, environmental, and social point of view. Around 2,000 farmers and their families (about 10,000 lives) will be permanently improved thanks to the better income offered by stronger and more productive plots, coupled with an improved resilience to climate change.

More widely, the knowledge created in this project will contribute to land management programmes throughout developing countries that Nitidae will continue to share, with the project expected to have spill-over effects on other important perennials crops in Ivory Coast such as cashew trees. There is also potential to publish a scientific paper.

Croda expertise and know-how

This project is utilising expertise and know-how from Croda’s subsidiary Plant Impact. For the last seven years Plant Impact has been collaborating with its distribution partner in West Africa, UPL, on the launch and market development of a foliar applied bio-stimulant that improves cocoa yield. This knowledge and best practice expertise will be shared to support the project’s independent trial work on sustainable farming models. 

Smart science to improve lives

This approach is underpinned by Croda’s philosophy to use Smart science to improve lives.™

Find out more on Croda Inc’s website:


50 hectares of regenerated cocoa plantations 
200 cocoa farmers directly benefited

Our Governance

Croda Foundation, established in 2020, is an independent charitable company set up by FTSE 100 specialty chemicals company, Croda International Plc, and is registered in England and Wales (number: 1196455).  The Foundation is solely funded by generous donations from Croda International Plc and led by an independent Board of Trustees