Vietnam has experienced impressive economic growth over the past decade, becoming one of the strongest economies in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). However, this rapid development often comes at the expense of the environment, risks the sustainability of growth and the well-being of Vietnamese citizens. With this project, Helvetas aims to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the cocoa sector to shift their activities towards regenerative and circular economy approaches, in order to contribute to a more sustainable economic growth.
Project NameCircular Economy Cocoa - From Bean to Bar
Project Phase2022 to 2026
FundingThe project is co-funded by the European Union (EU)
Thematic focusPrivate Sector Development
Gender & Social Equity
Climate & Disaster Resilience
The use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides as well as water-intensive cultivation methods in conventional cocoa production have significant negative consequences for the natural environment. Closed production and processing loops, however, can counteract this problem and help reducing the ecological footprint. While the circular economy model is gaining attention on a global level, Vietnamese farmers still struggle with the lack of necessary resources, information, and well-documented success stories that would drive the transition to a more sustainable circular economy.
That is why Helvetas Germany, and the local partner organization CDC (Center for Rural Development) have jointly developed this project, to help SMEs in the cocoa and chocolate sector transform the product lifecycle to regenerative and circular economy approaches that have less negative impact on the environment, natural resources, and livelihoods of local people.
Through context-specific trainings, farmers and SMEs learn how to gradually phase out the use of chemicals in production and how to reduce their resource consumption. In addition, participants learn how to reuse cocoa waste, generated during processing, as a source of energy and a raw material for agricultural inputs and packaging. In this way, the project not only contributes to a resource-efficient production process, but also creates a safer and healthier working environment for the farmers.
Furthermore, the project aims to initiate change in other sub-sectors of the agri-food industry through the successful and exemplary conversion of the cocoa and chocolate sector to a regenerative and circular business model, and to encourage policy makers and financial institutions to replicate the model.
In all activities, Helvetas and CDC pay special attention to the equality of all participants by promoting women's economic empowerment and equitable and inclusive collaboration with ethnic minority communities, who are key stakeholders and represented above average in cocoa production in the Central Highlands provinces such as Dak Lak and Lam Dong. At the same time, young farmers and entrepreneurs are encouraged to become involved in the cocoa sector, opening new economic opportunities for rural youth.
The project is funded by the European Union and donations.