Gisco backs World Cocoa Conference drive for action on living wage for farmers

The German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa (Gisco), has backed the World Cocoa Conference’s core message calling for urgent action on delivering a living wage for farmers in the sector.

Last month’s event in Berlin concluded with a declaration which stated “that it could no longer be business as usual” within the sector if the industry is to provide long-term sustainable supply chains within the global confectionery markets.

According to Gisco, which is formed from the German government and major sectors including the country’s confectionery industry, the conference’s key conclusions would provide a platform to help provide support for major cocoa growing communities in Africa (Ghana, the Ivory Coast), and other locations such as Indonesia.

The World Cocoa Conference, which was attended by 1,500 delegates from over 65 countries was supported by global confectionery, manufacturing and ingredients groups including Mars Wrigley, Mondelēz, Barry Callebaut, Bühler and Cargill, that all pledged their support to the biennial event’s targets of supporting farmers.

Major concerns were expressed surrounding the fact there remains a reported figure of around two million children being used for labour within the cocoa sector in Africa – which the cocoa conference’s said had to be prevented.

The event’s declaration also called for greater empowerment of women farmers working in the industry, measures to stem deforestation that has been linked to cocoa farming, and delivering transparency within the complete supply chain.

As well helping address working conditions for farming communities in Africa, Gisco has set out several other targets linked with the goals of the conference. These include conserving and preserving natural resources, and increasing cultivation of and commercialisation of sustainably produced cocoa.

Dr Maria Flachsbarth, parliamentary state secretary to the federal minister for economic cooperation and development, said in her speech on the final day of the 4th World Cocoa Conference that she is impressed by the results and the ambitious goals.

She mentioned the project Pro-Planteurs, an initiative helping professionalise 20,000 cocoa producing family owned farmer organisations in the Ivory Coast, as an example for projects that are already supported by both the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the German Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL).

She said: “We support smallholders to become entrepreneurs in the project Pro-Planteurs which is jointly implemented by the German government, the German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa and the Ivorian government.”

Meanwhile, Wolf Kropp-Büttner, Gisco chairman, added that it was only through combined action that key breakthroughs would be achieved with its proposals.

He said: “The German actors alone have too little influence to achieve the necessary changes in the sector. We must network at international level.” The World Cocoa Conference formed an important basis for this. “I am confident that we have taken a good step forward. Sustainability is a process. The GISCO members accompany and shape it.”

  • For a full review of the World Cocoa Conference, see the June edition of Confectionery Production magazine


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