Impact assessment of cocoa interventions in Vanuatu
In the past decade, cocoa research in Vanuatu has evolved form a scoping study - The potential of increasing the value of cocoa industries in Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and Samoa (HORT/2006/009), that concluded that Vanuatu (and the Solomon Islands) has the potential to become a significant cocoa producer and exporter. The Rehabilitation Cocoa for Improving Livelihoods in the South Pacific (HORT/2008/046) project, provided cocoa tree pruning training, black pod management training (Secretariat of the Pacific community and CABI) and rat control training (Australian CSIRO - Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization). The Facilitating improved livelihoods for Pacific cocoa producer networks through premium market access (PARDI/2011/001) project, concluded that cocoa farmers are only willing to adopt recommended production practices if prices are higher. Increased access to low quantity/high quality/high price niche markets coud provide the required incentives for farmers to adopt. PARDI/2011/001 took cocoa beans to Australian and US chocolate makers to test their quality. To have access to these niche markets farmers had to change their postharvest practices (fermenting and drying) to improve cocoa beans quality. To generate awareness and interest on these opportunities, PARDI/2011/001 brought together cocoa producers and high quality chocolate makers from Australia in a chocolate tasting and chocolate competition. Australian chocolate makers judged the quality of the chocolate made out of the cocoa beans from the contestants, and cocoa farmers had the opportunity to taste chocolate for the first time. These ACIAR interventions had the objective of improving the competitiveness of smallholder cocoa farmers in Vanuatu, to date there is not evidence of whether farmers adopted the promoted practices, and whether adoption resulted in welfare improvements.
ACIAR has recently conducted an impact evaluation study on cocoa projects in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea (IAS89) and examined the impact of the private sector using cocoa case-studies (IAS90). However, to date there has not been a rigorous study showing evidence of impact from interventions from Pacific research.
The objective of this SRA (Short Research Activity) is to evaluate the impact in adoption of ACIAR interventions in cocoa in Vanuatu.
The specific objectives of this SRA are:
- To investigate whether ACIAR project interventions - i.e. training in pruning, black pod management, and rat control, chocolate competition and chocolate tasting, resulted in farmer's better knowledge and adoption of improved production and post-harvest best management practices
- To investigate whether adoption of production and post-harvest best management practices resulted in improved quality, and increased prices.
- To draw lessons to guide future interventions in cocoa in the Pacific.
Quantitative and qualitative data will be collected to condut the analysis, and capacity building of local partners on the basics of impact evaluation will be conducted.