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Espresso Chocolate beans: The right mix for Nicaraguan farmers

Apr 23, 2014

The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group, has approved a $991,625 grant aimed at helping small coffee producers in Nicaragua diversify their crops and explore an attractive alternative: cocoa beans. In partnership with Christian Aid the project will offer technical assistance to some 400 Soppexcca small producers located in the departments of Jinotega and Matagalpa, who struggle economically due to their dependence on one single crop. 

In efforts to take advantage of the skills and knowhow these farmers have, the Unión de Cooperativas Agropecuarias Soppexcca (an association of agricultural cooperatives), together with Christian Aid, identified cocoa as the best diversification product. With only a few improvements, the existing coffee processing and marketing infrastructure can easily adapt to the new product. Soppexcca farmers also happen to be located at the right altitude, in a geographical region that due to climate change is now able produce both crops, and so, the project will focus mainly on training farmers in the technical aspects of cocoa production and processing. In addition, the initiative will teach young people to be cocoa “catadores”, as well as link the local cooperatives to international buyers. 

The project aims at long term sustainability as the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) forecasts that cocoa demand will climb 30% over the next 10 years, with a probable increase in international cocoa prices. Breaking into a market like this one represents an opportunity for creating new jobs, particularly for women and young people in rural areas.

Likewise, given that over-reliance on a single product like coffee is a common problem in many Central American countries, this is a highly replicable proposal. 

About the MIF

The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group, is funded by 39 donors and supports private sector-led development benefitting low-income populations and the poor - their businesses, their farms, and their households. The aim is to give them the tools to boost their incomes: access to markets and the skills to compete in those markets, access to finance, and access to basic services, including green technology. A core MIF mission is to act as a development laboratory - experimenting, pioneering, and taking risks in order to build and support successful micro and SME business models. More information at

About Christian Aid

Christian Aid is an international nongovernmental organization headquartered in the United Kingdom. It currently operates in 45 countries, 11 of which are in Latin America, and has more than 65 years of experience working with more than 1,000 local organizations. A key objective of CAid’s business strategy is to create resilient communities through an inclusive market strategy, as part of an integrated resilient livelihood approach. This strategy focuses on poor disadvantaged smallholder farmers and works with them through participatory methods, creating and improving current practices and developing sustainable agricultural strategies. It also promotes the role of women and young people dealing with all types of violence and social barriers that hinder their inclusion in development processes.

More information at

About Unión de Cooperativas Agropecuarias Soppexcca

The UCA SOPPEXCCA is a coffee cooperative created in 1999 by a group of 68 men and women coffee producers that joined the international coffee market.  Today, the organization represents 650 men and women producers with their families and is organized in 15 cooperatives. UCA SOPPEXCCA has developed models of democratic participation within each of its cooperatives and supports a youth movement. The organization has received various acknowledgements and awards for the quality of its produced coffee and for the high level of cooperation among its men and women producers. 

More information at   

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