Determinants of certified organic cocoa production: evidence from the province of Guayas, Ecuador


Due to its biodiversity, Ecuador is apt for the cultivation of Fine Aroma cocoa, which is one of the most desired cocoa varieties by top chocolatiers and chocolate manufacturers worldwide. Along with Fine Aroma cocoa, a cloned variety known as CCN51 is also produced. However, since 2011, the government of Ecuador has initiated a national rehabilitation plan aimed at improving Fine Aroma cocoa yields, quality, certification, and commercialization. Certified cocoa production obtains higher margins via the distinction of cocoa varieties and the implementation of eco-friendly and/or organic production techniques. The revision of technical data from a sample of over 3000 cocoa producers in the Province of Guayas (one of the most important cocoa producing provinces in Ecuador) is used to explore how certified cocoa production, and certified organic cocoa production in particular is influenced by agronomic practices, market, and credit access. The difference between organic certification and other forms of certification is relevant to understand potential obstacles faced by Fine Aroma cocoa producers aiming for organic certification in Ecuador. The findings illustrate that governmental support of specific agronomic practices such as pruning is of key relevance for certified cocoa production, while simultaneously indicating that certified organic production follows a more regulated protocol regarding selected input usage. The interlinkages between certified cocoa production (in general and organic in particular) and pruning are examined using seemingly unrelated bivariate probit regression analyses that also allows identifying the relevance of other socio-economic and institutional traits.

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  1. 1.

    The cocoa year runs from 1 October to 30 September

  2. 2.

    In the last 20 years, 90% of the renewed cocoa surface is said to correspond to CCN51 variety (MAGAP 2013)

  3. 3.

    Information on household size was not included because the majority of cocoa producers in the Province of Guayas reported an average size of three people households and there was no substantial variation across the observations concerning this particular trait

  4. 4.

    In the province of Guayas, up to 75% sell to a middleman, 5% sell directly to rural collection centers while only 5% sell to national enterprises or exporters

  5. 5.

    Marginal effects which in the case of the categorical variables account for discrete change values (Long and Freese 2014; Baum 2006) provide a good approximation of their relative weight in the prediction functions of Table 4


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Correspondence to Silvia L. Saravia-Matus.

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Saravia-Matus, S.L., Rodríguez, A.G. & Saravia, J.A. Determinants of certified organic cocoa production: evidence from the province of Guayas, Ecuador. Org. Agr. 10, 23–34 (2020).

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  • Certified organic cocoa production
  • Pruning
  • Ecuador
  • Agricultural rehabilitation plan
  • Fine aroma cocoa

JEL classifications

  • Q18: Agricultural Policy
  • Q17: Agriculture in International Trade
  • Q12 Micro Analysis of Farm Firms
  • Farm Households
  • and Farm Input Markets
  • O2: Development Planning & Policy
  • C25 Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models
  • Discrete Regressors
  • Proportions
  • Probabilities