Sustainable cocoa in Nicaragua

Waslala is a rural municipality in the hilly interior of Nicaragua. Most people in the region are small-scale farmers and live in extreme poverty. The population is comprised of people displaced by conflict and new settlers seeking arable land. Together with the Association of Mothers and Relatives of Waslala War Victims, Solidar Suisse promotes environmentally friendly farming and sustainable cocoa production. We facilitate fair and secure market opportunities and thereby better incomes for the population.

Poverty among small-scale farmers

The majority of the population in rural areas of Nicaragua live in extreme poverty. Small-scale farmers and agricultural workers rarely earn a living wage. This is the case for the municipality of Waslala and its 50,000 inhabitants. The community was very heavily hit by the civil war and today it is one of the poorest municipalities in Nicaragua. Most families live off small-scale agriculture, livestock breeding and cocoa cultivation. People outside the municipal capital often have no access to electricity or running water. At the same time, climate change is making agricultural production much harder and extreme weather events have caused significant damage in recent years.

Treffen der Kooperative in Waslala, Nicaragua Treffen der Kooperative in Waslala, Nicaragua

Association meeting in Waslala © Solidar Suisse

Fair Trade production

Solidar Suisse works with various grassroots organisations in Nicaragua, including the Association of Mothers and Relatives of Waslala War Victims


Since the end of the civil war, this association has worked to build a culture of democracy and nonviolence and has promoted more participation for women. For several years, the association has supported its 285 members to produce and market cocoa sustainably. The association purchases cocoa and seeks international marketing channels that offer good prices for cocoa.

Alternative livelihoods for the local population are created in tree nurseries and a small factory for organic fertilizers and plant protection products. In addition, 100 farmers are supported through the process to obtain UTZ certification, which enables them to sell their cocoa on international markets at Fair Trade prices.


The association purchases cocoa from its members and 200 external farmers from the region; in doing so, it increases farmers’ income by 20%. Since 2017, the association has also had a purchase agreement in place with an international chocolate producer. This enables it to create a sustainable source of income for thousands of people in Waslala.

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