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Food standards and sustainability in the cocoa supply chain in Ecuador


Cacao (Theobroma cacao, L.) is one of the most important agricultural commodities in the Ecuadorian economy with an important export to Europe. A new regulation on maximal levels of cadmium (Cd) in cacao will be implemented from 2019 in Europe, which is likely to affect the small-scale cacao farmers in Ecuador. A first estimate, in two Ecuadorian provinces, has shown that 2/3 of the production exceeded the limit; naturally high soil-Cd was strongly related to high bean-Cd. This project aims to estimate the impact of EU regulations on cacao supply chain in Ecuador and to identify possible solutions to mitigate that impact. Agronomical studies will evaluate the geographical distribution of Cd in cacao areas (surveys) and will experimentally test the application of soil amendments to remediate high-Cd cacao areas. The cacao supply chain will be described and the possibility to reorganise small-scale farmers will be evaluated. In addition, economic studies will make a cost-benefit analysis of agronomic countermeasures. Finally, the project will disseminate the knowledge and involve stakeholders from the start of the project.

Intervention type

TEAM projects


01/01/2017 - 31/12/2021

This project is being implemented in:
Flemish promoter Erik Smolders
Local promoter Eduardo Chavez
Local partner institution KU Leuven
visit www.kuleuven.be
Local partner institution Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral
Budget € 299.406