News & Media
WCF Newsletter March & April 2013
April 22, 2013
An especially rewarding development over the past few years has been the rapid increase in the number of Japanese companies that are members of WCF. Today, these companies represent a significant percentage of our entire membership. Their interest in WCF extends well beyond financial support of the organization and our programs. Japanese companies have consistently participated in WCF Board Meetings and were present for WCF-organized cocoa tours in Ghana and Ecuador. Some have recently launched innovative approaches to supporting farmer and youth education programs in West Africa and Latin America. At the same time, they are playing a crucial role in educating Japanese consumers about the origins of cocoa and the importance of sustainability in the cocoa sector. The growing Japanese company support for WCF is vital as we seek to reach a broader range of industry players in the chocolate and cocoa sector.
Each year, I travel to Tokyo to meet WCF members in Japan to update them on our activities and to learn more about their specific interests in sustainable cocoa and sourcing. This past February, I was again in Japan and met with WCF members Fuji Oil Co., Ltd.; Itochu Food Sales and Marketing, Ltd.; Lotte Co., Ltd.; Meiji; Morinaga & Co., Ltd., and Tachibana and Co., as well as the Japanese offices of WCF members Cargill and Mars, Incorporated. Additionally, I met with four other Japanese companies that are prospective WCF members, including Bourbon Corporation, which joined WCF in late March. In my conversations with Bourbon’s president, Yasushi Yoshida, and with the other companies, I was encouraged by their understanding of the importance of investing in the cocoa supply chain.
During the visit, I had the unprecedented and very special honor of being invited by our sister organization, the Chocolate and Cocoa Association of Japan to speak at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo. The museum was then hosting “Chocolate: The Exhibition”, which was originally created by The Field Museum, Chicago, with support from the U.S. National Science Foundation. My lecture was attended by more than 100 people from both the public and private sector. In some ways, the content of my lecture was fairly basic. I touched on cocoa farming and supply chain challenges, along with a number of other standard topics.
The questions that I received from the audience after my presentation demonstrated to me how the Japanese public is exceptionally well informed about the challenges that the cocoa sector faces as it seeks to become more sustainable. They ranged from “How can the quality of cocoa be improved in addition to productivity?”, to “What do different certification systems offer to farmers?”, to “How much of the WCF budget is dedicated to programs versus operations?”. It was a distinct pleasure to be able to engage a Japanese audience about these issues. Afterwards, I was interviewed by National Geographic Japan and had the opportunity to share some thoughts about the growing Asian consumer awareness of chocolate.
I believe that my time in Japan this year has helped to raise WCF’s profile further in the country and will attract more Japanese companies to join WCF. I want to thank Hisashi Ishiyama and Kazumi Hasegawa of Mars-Japan for their guidance and assistance during my stay in Tokyo, as well as Kaminaga of the Chocolate and Cocoa Association of Japan for his laudable efforts to raise the profile of sustainable cocoa. I look forward to seeing our Japanese members and friends at our Partnership Meetings this year, and again next year in Japan.
COCOAMAP TAKES A BIG STEP TOWARD COCOA SUSTAINABILITY
Cocoa Measurement and Progress (CocoaMAP) is a subscription-based website developed by the WCF that compiles and reports existing information for the purpose of tracking the global effort to achieve sustainability in cocoa production.
CocoaMAP provides an unparalleled perspective on the health of the cocoa sector at both the national and farm levels. The program is guided by a set of commonly agreed upon cocoa sustainability indicators based on People (social), Planet (environmental and biodiversity) and Profit (economic and productivity). These cocoa sustainability indicators were agreed upon by governments, producer organizations, civil society and companies in the cocoa and chocolate business.
Key CocoaMAP indicators include:
- Amount of cocoa produced
- Number of farmers involved
- Amount of land used
- Cost of cocoa production per hectare
- Effect of cocoa production on the health and prosperity of farming families, their communities and the environment, and the sustainability of their methods
The information provided by CocoaMAP will support transparency for the cocoa industry, to fine-tune existing programs aimed at supporting cocoa farmers and their communities, and will inform the development and decision-making of future programs and policies.
USDA-ARS BUILDS CAPACITY AT IVORIAN COCOA RESEARCH CENTER
In January 2012, Dr. Pilar Maul, from Saint Thomas University in Miami, Florida, attended her first Plant and Animal Genome Conference in San Diego, California. During the conference, Dr. Maul presented on a real time PCR-based method to detect Cacao Swollen Shoot Virus (CSSV) that had been made possible through a collaboration with the USDA Subtropical Horticulture Research Station in Miami and WCF Member Mars, Incorporated. Dr. Maul, after finishing her presentation, was approached by Dr. Désiré Pokou, a molecular geneticist from Côte d’Ivoire’s National Center for Agronomic Research (CNRA). The two discussed the problem of CSSV infection, and how useful an improved detection method would be for the cacao community and especially for Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s largest single producer of cocoa.
Several months then passed before Dr. Pokou contacted Dr. Maul with the hopes of bringing her, and Dr. Donald Livingstone, a consultant for Mars, to Côte d’Ivoire to lead a 10-day training workshop in July 2012. The objective of the workshop, sponsored by CNRA / ICRAF-MARS and hosted by CNRA, was to improve the capacity of the CNRA and its scientists in terms of real-time PCR based methods.
The workshop took place in the Central Biotechnology Laboratory of CNRA and was attended by a dozen scientists and students from across the CNRA with various specialties: virology, molecular biology, and plant pathology. The training workshop focused on utilizing the real time PCR equipment at the CNRA to detect CSSV infected trees and to perform SNP marker based genotyping. Additionally techniques to increase the throughput of DNA and RNA extractions, and methods to collect CSSV infected material were taught.
A field trip was organized by CNRA to an infected farm in the Bouaflé region, in the central part of the country, to collect infected leaves and mealy bugs. CNRA has expressed its commitment to collaborate with U.S. organizations such as USDA, University of Arizona and University of Saint Thomas Miami to improve CSSV detection methods using leaves and mealy bugs. CNRA scientists will also spend several months in the U.S. later this year, working at research facilities, under the auspices of the USDA/WCF Cocoa Borlaug Fellowship program.
Now researchers at the CNRA using SNP genotyping will be able to quickly ensure that improved cultivars are true to type. Furthermore, the ability to screen for CSSV infection at the CNRA will help to prevent infected trees from being distributed even if they are asymptomatic. This will lead to the distribution of better, healthier trees to growers. The training workshop was beneficial to both parties, who enjoyed sharing science, culture, and laying the ground work for future collaborations.
Special thanks to Kouamé Christophe, Juan Carlos Motamayor, Kouassi Nazaire, and David N. Kuhn whose support and leadership helped make the workshop possible.
CARGILL TEAMS UP WITH HERSHEY AND WCF FOR COCOALINK EXPANSION
Financial and technical support from Cargill will provide 6,000 more Ghanaian cocoa farmers and community members with access to CocoaLink, a program established by the Ghana Cocoa Board, the WCF and the Hershey Company in 2011, which uses mobile phone voice and SMS text messages to connect cocoa farmers with information about good farming practices, labor safety and crop marketing. CocoaLink has proven an effective tool in spreading knowledge and sharing best practices, helping farmers increase yields, and better market their products, so they can increase their incomes. Having reached 16,289 farmers in the past two years, the goal of CocoaLink is to reach 100,000 farmers by the end of 2014.
Over the next several months, Cargill will implement the rollout of CocoaLink to 6,000 farmers who participate in Cargill’s Farmer Field Schools in Ghana. CocoaLink will reinforce what farmers have learned during training, increasing its effectiveness, thus bringing even greater benefits to farmers. WCF trainers will conduct classes on the technology, with the Ghana Cocoa Board providing the information that will be shared with the farmers.
The power of CocoaLink is demonstrated by the story of Peter Tawiah, a smallholder in the village of Nknonya, Sefwi Wiawso, Ghana. A cocoa farmer in the tradition passed on to him by his father, Peter was selected by CocoaLink in 2011 to be the program’s lead farmer in his community, because of his good reputation, and the motivation and engagement he demonstrated.
Prior to participation in Cocoalink, Peter planted his cocoa trees in a haphazard manner, crowding plants so close together that there was insufficient aeration between the trees, which lead to the spread of disease on his farm. Through CocoaLink, he received advice about pruning and began applying those techniques to his work. Now, Peter lines and pegs his farm, so his trees have adequate space between them for healthy growth. He also prunes his trees regularly. This has helped Peter increase the size of his cocoa pods and prevent the spread of disease. Peter has further extended the impact of CocoaLink, by bringing other farmers from his community to his farm to teach them how to prune, and line and peg their trees.
CLCCG WORKING TOWARD CHILD LABOR PREVENTION
In early March, the Child Labor Cocoa Coordinating Group (CLCCG) met in Washington, D.C., to review child labor prevention activities taken in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana under the auspices of the 2001 Harkin-Engel Protocol. The CLCCG pools public-private resources to implement child labor reduction projects, with a goal of reducing child labor in cocoa by 70 percent by 2020 through six projects implemented by WCF members Barry Callebaut, Ferrero, Hershey, Mars and Nestlé, as well as the International Cocoa Initiative and International Labor Organization. The two-day meeting was attended by more than 100 people, including representatives of the National Confectioners Association, and convened by the U.S. Department of Labor. WCF presented on proposed CocoaMAP indicators to track progress in reducing child labor and, with Hershey, on the progress of the CocoaLink mobile technology program in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.U.S. Senator Tom Harkin and Congressman Eliot Engel participated in the meeting’s first day, which was followed by a second day of public workshops. The government of Côte d’Ivoire was represented by its Minister of Education, Chief of Staff for the First Lady’s Office, representatives from the Conseil Café Cacao, and the Ivorian ambassador to the United States. Ghana was represented by its ambassador to the United States.
CLCCG members discussed lessons learned, found synergies for cooperation between programs and explored how their work could complement government-led child labor reduction initiatives in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. The seven projects that make up the CLCCG’s implementation portfolio are a fraction of the total investment by industry, and it was concluded that better coordination with stronger national government participation is needed to meet CLCCG’s goal. Priorities for strengthening the CLCCG process that were discussed during the meeting included the following: dialogue across/between industry and other actors in the cocoa value chain; formal and informal education in cocoa growing communities; and strong measurement frameworks.
Senator Harkin and Congressman Engel offered words of encouragement for industry’s actions thus far, while only hinting at CLCCG’s next steps once Senator Harkin retires in December 2014.
On February 26-28, 2013, WCF’s African Cocoa Initiative (ACI) organized a regional workshop in Grand-Bassam, Côte d’Ivoire, on soil fertility management for cocoa production. In attendance were more than 70 representatives of ministries of agriculture, cocoa boards, cocoa exporters, national agricultural research agencies and cocoa farmers from Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria, as well as WCF member companies, certification bodies, international research organizations and international NGOs. The workshop agreed to integrate soil fertility management into farmer extensions training curricula in WCF/ACI countries and to create a regional working group on soil fertility management for cocoa production.
Kicking off the workshop were country-specific sessions on the current state of soil fertility management knowledge and practices, and perspectives on soil fertility management in West Africa, from policy makers and researchers.
The workshop’s second day included expert presentations on the economics of fertilizer use, current cocoa fertilizer formulations and usage by a range of fertilizer dealers and experts, including WCF Treasurer Michiel Hendriksz. Also included in the presentations was information on agroforestry systems and soil fertility, as well as a hands-on demonstration of proper fertilizer use by a cocoa farmer. WCF partners ANADER, TechnoServe, and Ghana Cocoa Board also served as expert presenters. The day closed with presentations on organic amendments from USDA/WCF Cocoa Borlaug fellows.
The final day of the workshop included a presentation on mobile soil testing kits adaptable for West Africa by a Borlaug Fellow from the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria. This was followed by presentations by WCF/ACI Chief of Party Sona Ebai and WCF/CLP Director Mbalo Ndiaye, who gave overviews of WCF activities on soil fertility management. The day ended with panel discussions on the constraints and opportunities that are faced by policy makers, including farmer training and access to affordable fertilizer.
As Dr. Soumaila Bredoumy, director general for Production and Food Security at the Ministry of Agriculture in Côte d’Ivoire, explained, “no planting material, no matter how high yielding, can express all its full potential if the environment is not favorable. And for all crops, the first favorable environment for development is the soil”. Dr. Bredoumy added that, “a combination of high yielding planting material and rational soil fertility management therefore constitute the ideal foundation for sustainable cocoa production.”
The workshop’s major outcomes, along with other WCF/ACI objectives, will contribute to the achievement of WCF/ACI’s goal of doubling cocoa productivity for 100,000 farm households and raise per capita income by 150-200%. For more information on WCF/ACI, click HERE.
COCOA FARMERS MEET PLANTING MATERIAL CHALLENGE
Throughout the cocoa-growing world, farmers’ access to improved planting material is a challenge. This can be particularly true in areas where cocoa is a relatively new or emerging crop and infrastructure for planting material distribution is not yet in place.
In Indonesia, the World Cocoa Foundation is working with the Indonesian Coffee and Cocoa Research Institute (ICCRI) and the province and district level Estate Crops Departments (Disbun) to address this issue in two provinces of Sumatra – Lampung and West Sumatra. The project is supported by the proceeds of WCF’s First Annual Gala held at the Embassy of Indonesia in 2011. The project implementation was coordinated by Dr. Agung Susilo, an alum of the USDA/WCF Cocoa Borlaug Fellowship Program in 2011.
WCF, ICCRI, and the Disbun Lampung Province recently visited the project’s four sites in Lampung and met with farmers participating in the project. Farmers noted that much of their current planting material came from their own farms or hybrid seedling from seed garden. Many reported yields of around 800 kg to 1 ton per hectare, but believed that greater yields would be possible with improved planting material and better control of diseases such as black pod (caused by Phytophthora palmivora). Prior to the project, several farmers had heard about improved planting material being used in Sulawesi and were interested in accessing this material for their own farms. However, this material was not readily available in Lampung.
In October 2012, one lead farmer from each project site received training from ICCRI and the Mars Cocoa Development Center which be held in Jember, East Java and East Luwu, South Sulawesi during 20 days. In December 2012, each lead farmer established a budwood garden with nine nationally recommended clones with different background of their resistance to main pest and disease. These budwood gardens will serve two purposes – as field trials to develop planting material recommendations specific to the local environment, and as sources of planting material for farmers. The lead farmers will eventually operate the budwood gardens and accompanying nurseries as small businesses. Although the trees in the budwood gardens were only planted a few months ago, the farmers are looking forward to using this material to improve their yields.
ECUADOR: WCF, LINDT & SPRÜNGLI, and USDA-ARS SUPPORT FINE-FLAVOR COCOA RESEARCH
WCF and WCF Member Lindt & Sprüngli are providing a financial gift to the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service’s Sustainable Perennial Crops Laboratory (SPCL) to support genetics research on fine-flavor cocoa varieties found in Ecuador. The research may help ensure long term supply of cocoa and chocolate products that contain prized flavor attributes.
SPCL’s research is focused on understanding the genetic diversity of Ecuador’s Nacional type cocoa varieties and how they differ from other varieties grown throughout South America and the Caribbean. In collaboration with the Ecuadorian National Agricultural Research Institute (INIAP), SPCL is establishing genetic profiles for all traditional cocoa varieties in Ecuador, while focusing on “Arriba cocoa”.
Genetic diversity within and among these traditional cacao types is being assessed using tools of spatial genetics and genomics. The research findings will be used to develop mechanisms promoting the conservation of traditional varieties and will work to verify the quality of Nacional beans reaching the market place. By exploring on-farm diversity in Ecuador, the research will also strengthen INIAP’s effort in selecting high yielding and disease-resistant Nacional varieties.
More than 100,000 Ecuadorean families are active in the cultivation of cocoa trees. The country exports approximately 65 percent of the global supply of fine-flavor cocoa. The varieties of cocoa found in Ecuador are prized for their unique floral flavors.
D.C. PARTNERSHIP MEETING
WCF Partnership Meetings bring together the private and public sectors from the Americas, Europe, Africa, Australia, and Asia to share knowledge about a wide range of cocoa sustainability topics, and to collaborate on the advancement and support of cocoa farmers and communities. WCF Partnership Meetings are a forum for the cocoa community to network, to gain practical information for tackling sustainability issues, and to learn from some of the most prominent experts in the cocoa sector.
THIRD ANNUAL BENEFIT GALA
WCF’s Annual Benefit Gala supports various cocoa sustainability projects. Funds raised through the 2013 Gala will help support and possibly expand a range of WCF programs, including notably our cocoa exchange programs, which have a proven record of providing valuable skills to researchers and managers in cocoa-growing communities around the world. Buy Your Ticket
WCF IN THE NEWS:
MAKING CHOCOLATE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY: WCF WORKS TO ADVANCE BIODIVERSITY IN THE COCOA SECTOR
In early March, WCF announced that it has been awarded a grant from the Biodiversity and Agricultural Commodities Program (BACP) of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), to develop biodiversity indicators and strengthen associated data collection methodologies. Indicators serve as a gauge of the health of the sector’s sustainability efforts. The grant will support biodiversity indicators in the cocoa sector through WCF’s CocoaMAP initiative.
“Supporting biodiversity in cocoa production has long been a core value of WCF. WCF farmer training programs already incorporate good agricultural practices that foster environmental stewardship and biodiversity on cocoa farms. With a commonly agreed upon set of biodiversity indicators, we will be able to meaningfully measure environmental benefits across the sector,” said Bill Guyton, WCF president.
The biodiversity indicators will reflect the need for more environmentally friendly and sustainable cocoa production in the world’s leading cocoa producing countries. Potential indicators to be examined will include: number of native tree species under shade canopy, number of hectares of native vegetation on cocoa farms, and the average shade canopy density in cocoa fields. CocoaMAP will also develop methodology for collecting biodiversity data through monitoring and evaluation systems of existing interventions in cocoa-growing regions.
All indicators and data collection methodologies, as well as pilot results, will be shared publicly, so as to better inform the development and decision-making of future programs and policies in the cocoa sector.
In many respects, cocoa farming has changed little in the past 100 years. This is due in part to the need for better methods of transferring new technologies and information to farmers, as well as the need for further research on key areas such as genetics, insect pests, and diseases. WCF addresses both of these needs through research and farmer-oriented regional programming:
UPCOMING WCF EVENTS
7: ACI Steering Committee Meeting, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire
8-9: CLP Steering Committee Meeting, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire
4: WCF Board Meeting, Washington, D.C.
5: 3rd Annual Benefit Gala, Washington, D.C.
5-6: WCF 23rd Partnership Meeting & Roundtable Sessions, Washington, D.C.
7: WCF Cocoa Research Forum, Beltsville, MD
1: ACI Steering Committee Meeting, Ghana
2-3: CLP Steering Committee Meeting, Ghana
15-16: WCF 24th Partnership Meeting & Roundtable Sessions, Dominican Republic
15-16: 25th Partnership Meeting & Roundtable Sessions, Bali, Indonesia
22-23: 26th Partnership Meeting & Roundtable Sessions, Washington, D.C.
UPCOMING WCF STAFF TRAVEL
Michael Cullen, Senior Program Director
April 29-May 3, Ghana; May 6-10, Cote d’Ivoire
Ethan Budiansky, Program Manager, Cocoa Livelihoods Program
May 1-15, Cote d’Ivoire
Bill Guyton, President
May 6-10, Cote d’Ivoire
Holly Houston, Finance Manager
May 6-10, Cote d’Ivoire
Virginia Sopyla, Associate Director of Southeast Asia, Latin America & Research
May 8-25, Indonesia
Charlie Feezel, Education Program Director, WCF ECHOES
May 27-31, Cote d’Ivoire
We extend our best wishes to departing WCF staff member Marisa Yoneyama (WCF Communications Manager – D.C.) as she takes the next steps in her career path. We also congratulate WCF staff member Virginia Sopyla, who is transitioning into her new role as Associate Director of Southeast Asia, Latin America & Research. WCF also welcomes new staff members Edwin Afari (WCF/M&E – Accra) and Korkortsi Kodzo (WCF/ECHOES – Accra).