Promoting the sustainability of the sugar cane supply chain in El Salvador

Title Need Analysis of the sustainability of sugar cane producers small cooperatives in El Salvador

Location Sonsonate e San Luis Talpa, El Salvador

Duration February 2020


In El Salvador, sugar cane production presents critical situations, especially in social and environmental terms. The greatest weaknesses are found in the lack of transparency of the production chains. Nonetheless, sugar cane represents 11% of the country’s total agriculture and occupies 79 thousand hectares of the total cultivated area (data relating to 2018/2019). Approximately 175 municipalities, divided over 13 (of the 14) departments of the country, are dedicated to sugar cane production.

The development of the sugar cane sector began in the 1930s with the birth of the first consortia and nowadays there are six large sugar factories. The agricultural process is intensive: the sowing period causes land erosion and harvest causes an excess in land exploitation.


General Objective 

The aim of the Need Analysis was to collect and analyze the needs related to the economic, environmental and social sustainability of the cooperatives identified as potential beneficiaries of a future development project.


Our contribution 

The study focused in particular on:

  • ♦ Understanding the context of the sugar cane production and supply chain at national level.
  • ♦ Understanding the relationships that take place inside the sugar cane supply chain from producers to the sugar factory, including the main relationships between local actors.
  • ♦ Identifying the main needs of small producers and their cooperatives.
  • ♦ Exploring the main causes that undermine the sustainability of sugar cane production, evaluating possible areas of intervention.
  • ♦ Identifying and suggesting potential future development initiatives and proposals.

The research was carried out through a field mission and the use of mixed methods that accompanied a preliminary desk analysis: semi-structured individual and collective interviews, field visits and informal interaction, focus groups with the main stakeholders of the supply chain and with small producers.



For further information

Leonardo Borsacchi
Circular Innovation & Sustainable Commodities Unit – Coordinator

Read more on our Circular Innovation & Sustainable Commodities Unit