Cocoa sector gather to address sustainability issues

Nearly 500 representatives of the global chocolate and cocoa sector, including farmers have gathered in Côte d’Ivoire to address the critical sustainability issues confronting the crop.

The theme of the Partnership Meeting and Cocoa Sustainability trade fair, organised by the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) and Côte d’Ivoire’s cocoa regulatory agency, Le Conseil du Café-Cacao, centred around ‘People, Planet, Profit in a Changing World’.

Côte d’Ivoire is the world’s leading producer of cocoa, which is the main source of income for millions of people across West Africa and in large parts of Latin America and Southeast Asia.

Underscoring the urgency of the sustainability issues, the WCF and the US government’s Feed the Future launched the African Cocoa Initiative II. The five-year, $12 million effort aims to increase the production of cocoa planting materials and provide financial services to cocoa farmers in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria. The programme also aims to support the implementation of the WCT’s Cocoa Action strategy for cocoa sustainability and brings together the public and private sector.

WCF president Richard Scobey, said, “We are deepening our focus on the key elements of the sustainability agenda. Ensuring that cocoa farming constitutes a sustainable livelihood for farmers, providing youth meaningful opportunities in the cocoa sector and empowering women who work in cocoa have long been top priorities for WCF, but we know that more needs to be done.

“Other issues, such as financing farm rehabilitation, addressing deforestation, and strengthening accountability and transparency, demonstrate our commitment to confront new threats and explore new opportunities.”

In his opening remarks, Ivorian Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan outlined a series of steps the host country is taking to encourage further development of its cocoa industry, including a plan to locally process 50% of the local cocoa crop by 2020 and support the local production of chocolate.

The Partnership Meeting aimed to address a wide range of topics, including sustainability, women’s financial inclusion, deforestation, engaging a new generation of cocoa farmers, future trends in cocoa-related science, providing farmers needed finance to rehabilitate and renew their farms, and more.

To reinforce the transparency theme of the Abidjan discussions, WCF also issued its first CocoaAction Annual Report, an important step to report results and enhance accountability by nine of the world’s leading chocolate and cocoa companies to voluntarily align around a strategy for a rejuvenated and economically viable cocoa sector.

CocoaAction, announced in 2014 in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, aims to make sure the cocoa sector offers a profitable way of life for professionalised and economically empowered cocoa farmers and their families, while providing a significantly improved quality of life for cocoa-growing communities. The strategy’s initial focus is 300,000 Ivorian and Ghanaian cocoa farmers and their communities.

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