West Africa supplies roughly 70% of the world’s cocoa and Côte d’Ivoire ranks as the largest producer and leading exporter on the world market. It’s a cash crop responsible for everything from chocolate, to pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. Many of the cocoa farms, approximately two million, are family run enterprises of less than 2 hectares (5 acres). Historically, it is often the children (sometimes as young as age 10) harvesting the cocoa and until recently, more often than not, at the expense of acquiring even a basic education. One organization that’s been at the forefront of reversing this trend is the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), an international membership foundation located in Washington, D.C. focused on providing cocoa farmers with the education and tools they need to help create sustainable cocoa economies.

In July 2012, the First Lady of Cote d’Ivoire, Dominique Ouattara teamed up with Bill Guyton, President of the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) to flip the script and offer educational and training programs between the private and public sector supporting the literacy of youth and adults in West Africa. Valued at more than $3.6 billion, the program, will help more than 12, 000 Ivorians, including limiting children’s susceptibility to exploitation, such as trafficking and child slave labor, which have increasingly alarmed the international community.

Originally published in Africa Agribusiness Magazine

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