Antananarivo, 8 July 2022 (TDI): On World Chocolate Day, 7 July 2022, a 75-year-old farmer from Madagascar, Emile Gaston, said that “cacao is the opportunity to develop my region”.

USAID provides assistance and support to the local cacao farmers and connects these farmers with the international corporations that produce chocolates.

For centuries, people have regarded cacao beans as a product and as a form of wealth. Worldwide cacao cultivation is a multi-billion-dollar business.

Small-scale farmers like Emile Gaston, a 75-year-old tree plantation expert in Madagascar, and other cacao farmers make up the majority of those who cultivate cacao. They believe that cacao will promote development in their region.

Global consumers look for chocolate of the highest quality. Connecting smallholder producers of historic cacao varieties with global consumers is quite difficult. USAID is helping to promote the connection between them.

USAID’s Health, Ecosystems, and Agriculture for Resilient Thriving Societies program

USAID uses the Health, Ecosystems, and Agriculture for Resilient Thriving Societies (HEARTH) program for developing a bridge between them.

The objectives of preserving biodiversity and important ecosystems and enhancing the welfare of local populations are interconnected, according to USAID.

By collaborating with the corporate sector to jointly invest in ecological and sustainable livelihoods, HEARTH is hoping to achieve these objectives.

HEARTH is currently collaborating with cacao farmers from Indonesia, Ghana, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, and Côte d’Ivoire. The international cacao market is dominated by these nations to the extent of approximately 70%.

However, the full range of HEARTH’s activities goes far beyond the production of cacao. The 14 HEARTH initiatives also include working to improve the sustainability of sea cucumber and sea grass farming in Madagascar.

Moreover, other activities include establishing ecotourism in Bangladesh’s Sundarbans, initiating conservation interactive learning in East Africa, and collaborating with coffee farmers to lessen illegal hunting and deforestation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The integrated programme of USAID is helping communities protect the environment and its resources by increasing investment and improving results. Cacao farming may benefit local people and the environment in this way.