The cocoa value chain in many West African regions is characterized by a fragmented and often informal network of smallholder farmers, middlemen, and cooperatives. These farmers often operate in remote areas on small plots of land, lacking direct access to global markets. This reliance on a series of intermediaries to connect their products to consumers creates a scattered structure, exacerbated by inadequate transportation and communication infrastructure, resulting in a lack of transparency throughout the supply chain. Critical information about the cocoa's origin, farming practices, and quality can become lost as it moves from one link in the chain to the next.
The absence of a robust technological infrastructure in these farming regions further deepens the obscurity of the process. Without modern tools to track and verify cocoa beans from farm to factory, ensuring their quality, ethical sourcing, and environmental impact becomes a formidable challenge. This situation not only erodes the confidence of consumers and stakeholders concerned about sustainable and responsible sourcing but also frequently leads to farmers receiving suboptimal compensation for their produce, perpetuating the cycle of poverty in cocoa-growing communities.