The World Cocoa Foundation has announced $3 million in new support for cocoa improvement projects in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The efforts will use a range of methods, including internet resources, mobile phone technology and microfinance to focus on providing cocoa farmers with needed information to increase the quality and quantity of their cocoa yields.
The announcement came as WCF’s board met in Washington, D.C., on the eve of the organization’s 23rd Partnership Meeting, which is bringing together the world’s leading public and private sector experts on cocoa. “Our commitment to cocoa sustainability is rooted at the source – with farmers, farms, and cocoa communities,” said Bill Guyton, WCF President. “These new efforts across the globe by WCF to ensure cocoa sustainability will directly benefit cocoa farmers by the tens of thousands. They also continue our tradition of public-private partnerships that combine the best in government support with serious financial commitments from the private sector.”
In Africa, WCF announced five initiatives. The first is a new mobile phone-based system to provide cocoa farmers with practical information on good agricultural practices that, when applied, can improve quality and quantity of cocoa yields. The program, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, will launch in Cote d’Ivoire, the world’s leading producer of cocoa, following a pilot project in Ghana. Also in Cote d’Ivoire, WCF announced the start of a new school construction project in partnership with member company Fazer to provide improved educational opportunities for children in cocoa-growing communities.
In Nigeria, WCF announced a new partnership with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to provide assistance to 70,000 cocoa farming households in at least 10 Nigerian states. The program will focus on business skills trainings and support for diversification of rural economies to increase cocoa farm household incomes. It could ultimately generate benefits for more than 480,000 Nigerians. Also in Nigeria, WCF is launching an internet-based technology to provide farmers with resources on good agricultural practices, nutrition, and other information valuable to farmers and the agricultural sector.
In Liberia, a WCF project funded by Chevron is focused on increased access to improved planting material and agricultural inputs, with the goal of increasing production and fostering economic development in rural areas of the country reaching 1,000 farmers and their households. For the first time in its history, WCF is receiving support for its activities in West Africa from a Japanese member company, Meiji Co., Ltd., which is injecting new private sector funding into an ongoing effort by WCF to increase farmer incomes in Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria.
In Asia, WCF will partner with ACDI/VOCA to support a project in Indonesia to develop the country’s cocoa sector by helping farmers improve their productivity through innovations in mobile banking, microfinance loans, and ICT applications. WCF members Armajaro, Continaf, The Hershey Company, Mars, Mondelez and Olam are supporting the project. In Latin America, WCF announced that it would hold its 24th Partnership Meeting in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on October 15-16, 2013.
The meeting, which is being held for the first time in the Caribbean and supported by WCF member contributions and the Dominican Republic Export and Investment Center, will again assemble a wide range of leading cocoa sustainability experts from around the world to discuss efforts to improve cocoa livelihoods and ensure a more sustainable approach to cocoa production.