The Protected Denominations of Origin in agricultural goods through recognized chains, have a fundamental economic role. In Ecuador, the pdo cocoa bean certification becomes a protagonist since it presents an opportunity to boost the social performance of smallholders. A substantial amount of research focused only on examining the crop performance of pdo products. However, there is a shift in the agricultural chain perspective towards more sustainable models. In this respect, social, economic, and institutional aspects are consequential and tribute to the agricultural sector development. Also, the current rise of market opportunities at the local and international levels is a driver to support them. This study aimed to analyze socio-economic and governance components to understand the pdo Cocoa Arriba (Theobroma cacao) chain sustainability performance and bring forward potential strategies. Principal Components Analysis was introduced to contribute with relevant insights.The framework applied accounts with a revision of primary and support activities. The investigation clustered pre-production, production, and post-production tiers. Also, it executed the food chain mapping and identification of chain actors. Results stated several viable long-term strategies. Examples of those strategies are the enhancement of national regulation to assist chain actors and the stimulus of young producers and associations empowerment. The main research contribution is the application of governance mechanisms to assess the chain performance comprehensively. Based on the results, our recommendation is to incorporate new indicators to analyze the environmental and institutional components profoundly.
Keywords: Socio-economic, Agricultural regulation, Rural farming, Governance structure