In troubled times of Ebola outbreaks, civil conflicts and natural disasters, it is sometimes helpful to step back and take stock of how the development community has banded together in the past to address similar challenges. Many of you may know Rajiv Shah, who is the administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). At the Frontiers Development Forum in Washington earlier in September, I listened as Dr. Shah delivered one of the finest speeches I have heard in quite some time.
His remarks caused me to reflect on how hopeless other humanitarian crises have seemed, such as the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, recent hurricanes in the Philippines, and food shortages in the Horn of Africa. In each case, public and private partners banded together to address these disasters and invest in long term economic development plans. In 2014, we are confronted with the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. To date, the international response hasbeen slow, but I am encouraged that some 3,000 U.S. military personnel are joining international partners in an effort to mobilize and provide logistics and infrastructure that will add bed-capacity and care to treatment units. I was pleased to learn that France, Germany, Great Britain, China and several other leading countries, as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, are providing relief funding and assistance to affected areas, demonstrating the true international coordination and support. This is critical in a region that is home to some 2 million cocoa farmers.
Beyond disaster relief, USAID invests in partnerships such as the Feed the Future Initiative, which is improving the nutrition of more than 12 million children and assisting some 7 million famers out of poverty. WCF’s African Cocoa Initiative, co-funded by USAID and our company members, is one such program under Feed the Future that is building capacity of research and extension services in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria.
We are fortunate to have leaders in the development community, including Dr. Shah, who are willing to make the investments needed for the betterment of farmers today and in the future.
GLOBAL COCOA SECTOR TO CONVENE IN COPENHAGEN FOR SUSTAINABILITY DISCUSSIONS
WCF hosts its 26th Partnership Meeting and Cocoa Sustainability Trade Fair October 15-16 in Copenhagen, Denmark with the theme “Connecting Sustainability, Standards and Certification”. Participants will explore the interrelationships between the three topics and how they contribute to the future of the cocoa sector. WCF’s strategy for cocoa sustainability, CocoaAction, will also be a major focus of the meeting.
The Partnership Meeting is expected to attract approximately 300 participants representing the chocolate and cocoa industry, global retailers, cocoa producing country governments, non-profit organizations, academia, research institutes and more. Participants from around the globe are expected to attend, including from origin countries. Running concurrently with the meeting is WCF’s Cocoa Sustainability Trade Fair, which is an opportunity for participants to network and learn about sustainability projects and initiatives of participating companies.
The meeting takes place in Dansk Industri’s “New House of Industry.” The state of the art meeting venue and office building is situated across the street from Copenhagen’s city hall and overlooking the world-famous Tivoli Gardens to the back. The building is designed with the environment in mind, boasting solar energy, “waste wood” flooring, a recycled rain water toilet system, and more. The meeting venue’s commitment to sustainability makes it the perfect venue to discuss cocoa sustainability.
A big thanks to our sponsors for the Partnership Meeting:
WCF will be “live-tweeting” from the event, so whether you are attending or not, we encourage you to follow the conversation online, submit questions for panelists, or share your feedback via Twitter with #WCFPM. Be sure to follow WCF on Twitter and Facebook for updates.
For more detail about the Partnership Meeting, including the meeting agenda visit: worldcocoafoundation.org/partnership-meeting-copenhagen/
GHANAIAN COCOA FARMERS VISIT WASHINGTON
IMPROVING HEALTH IN COCOA-GROWING COMMUNITIES THROUGH GOOD HYGIENE EDUCATION
In many cocoa-growing communities, waterborne diseases are common. Good hygiene practices are critical for keeping community members healthy, and have taken on a new level of importance as Côte d’Ivoire is holding off the current outbreak of Ebola, affecting much of West Africa. The government of Côte d’Ivoire is taking many steps to prevent the spread of the disease which has not yet been reported in the country. To complement the government’s recent awareness raising campaign, health and hygiene have been identified as critical topics this quarter for the WCF Empowering Cocoa Households with Opportunities and Economic Solutions (WCF ECHOES) program.
To encourage good hygiene practices, five schools in WCF ECHOES communities have received handwashing stations. One of these schools is in the village of Amanikro, located in the Gagnoa region of Côte d’Ivoire. The handwashing station works by harvesting rainwater from the roof of the school and storing it in a large bucket for future use. Along with the construction of the station, a training session focusing on how to maintain and use the stations was held at the school for the students, teachers, and School Management Committee members. The connection between washing hands and good health was emphasized, as well as how these practices can be done at home to limit the spread of disease.
Since the training session was held, the majority of students in Amanikro are now washing their hands before sitting down to eat and are urging their parents to do the same. One father, Jean N’guessan Kouassi is particularly impressed by how his 10 year-old daughter Solange has incorporated new healthy habits that she learned at school into her daily routine at home and encourages her family to do the same. Mr. Kouassi commented that he “appreciate[s] knowing that, even at her age, she has remembered the importance of this training and has been able to share that with the family”. It is hoped that the good practices learned through the health and hygiene training will continue to spread throughout Amanikro and beyond, to keep families living in cocoa-growing communities healthy.
COCOAACTION’S FERTILIZER INITIATIVE
The Cocoa Fertilizer Initiative works to return soil fertility to key cocoa growing regions in Côte d’Ivoire. In doing so, the Initiative limits farm expansion and deforestation by enabling farmers to improve their livelihoods by turning cocoa farming into a sustainable business. It is funded by WCF, Le Conseil du Café-Cacao (CCC), and fertilizer suppliers and is implemented in partnership with IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH).
As part of a process by CCC, aligned with the 2QC strategy and in collaboration with consultants of FIRCA the Cocoa Fertilizer Initiative contributed to the production and presentation of new cocoa manuals for farmers and for trainers in Côte d’Ivoire. With input from more than 20 partners from the cocoa sector and from fertilizer companies, conditions and recommendations for fertilizer use have been established. This will support clear and joint messaging on fertilizer use to both farmers and trainers.
Following a recent workshop in Abidjan, all input has been structured in a final draft of the chapter on fertilization as part in the CCC cocoa manuals. It is expected that the first official CCC manuals will see the light in October. These manuals will be used by Anader and will be updated on a yearly basis to provide relevant guidance and support to cocoa farmer in Côte d’Ivoire.
ALLIES IN SUSTAINABILITY: MEASUREMENTS AND STANDARDS
WCF’s CocoaAction effort to craft new shared industry commitments to drive sustainability in the cocoa sector is now being joined by many voices across the globe.
CocoaAction’s new allies are the organizations and cocoa experts busily crafting the world’s first global sustainability standards for cocoa. This effort is driven by the European Committee for Standardization and the International Standards Organization, CEN and ISO, respectively. Each of these organizations serves to promote industrial and commercial standards for all manner of products in Europe and around the world.
CocoaAction is now engaged with the CEN/ISO joint effort in an industry-changing conversation to make cocoa more sustainable.
Since early 2014, WCF has worked to develop standards for the CocoaAction Performance Measurement Framework. These are principles of aligning the measurement and evaluation of how industry activities impact cocoa farmers, their economies, and their communities.
CocoaAction is well positioned to serve as a platform for broad coordination involving all of the key stakeholders in cocoa sustainability. Likewise, the CEN/ISO process proposes to create an international standard for the cocoa industry. CEN/ISO’s objective is to formulate independently verifiable criteria for a globally recognized standard around which all new or existing private voluntary standard initiatives and certification schemes can align.
The CEN/ISO process draws on industry expertise and producer country expertise, to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard.
Like the CocoaAction Performance Measurement Framework, CEN/ISO includes standards and verification measures relating to the sustainability themes of People, Planet, and Profit. Additionally, CEN/ISO drafts new global standards for cocoa traceability and conformity assessment. Once completed and potentially endorsed by producer governments in 2016, these new standards may have a profound effect on the business of certifying cocoa.
As WCF enters this important conversation with CEN/ISO, the CocoaAction principles of aligning measures of impact can contribute much of the learning that WCF has achieved through years of working on these subjects with our member companies.
ACCESS TO CREDIT IN THE AMERICAS
WCF organized an inaugural Annual Seminar on Cocoa in the Americas on September 3-4 in Bogota, Colombia. The event focused on access to credit for cocoa farmers and farmer organizations. More than 40 representatives attended from a variety of local and regional organizations, including the Colombian government, regional banking institutions, the cocoa sector and non-governmental organizations. The seminar was sponsored by Ecom Agroindustrial, Ecopetrol, Transmar Ecuador, and Grupo Agro Tecnológico la Estrella.
Seminar sessions covered the current situation of access to financial services, models of access to financial services for smallholder farmers, issues of access to financial services and opportunities for the cocoa sector. Key presentations included perspectives from financial institutions in Colombia, as well as presentations on lessons learned from the coffee sector. Tonathiu Acevedo of Agroindustrias Unidas de Mexico presented lessons learned about the importance of technical assistance for managing risk. Carlos Jaramillo of Fedecafe discussed models of the provision of financial and technical services in the coffee sector. Challenges, risks and benefits of informal systems were the focus of a presentation by Michaël de Groot of Rabobank Foundation. Seminar presentations can be found here.
A major conclusion of the seminar is the need for greater interaction between borrowers and lenders. A demand and supply for financial services exists, but there is a need for an integrated approach incorporating the context of the cocoa sector. In addition, participants identified the need to help ensure that farmers receive appropriate technical assistance, which allows them to take advantage of these services.
WCF and AgriFin will host a public follow-on webinar in November to continue discussions about access to finance for farmers. Information can be found on the WCF and AgriFin websites in early October.
BORLAUG FELLOW TO RESEARCH SHADE MANAGEMENT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII
Bong Salazar, professor and researcher from the University of the Philippines Los Baños, is currently conducting work as a Borlaug Fellow at the University of Hawaii. The Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellowship Program Global Cocoa Initiative is a joint program administered by USDA-FAS in cooperation with WCF to support mid-career cocoa scientists to complete a two to three-month research fellowship in the United States, acquiring skills and knowledge that can be shared broadly upon their return to their home countries.
During his fellowship, which concludes at the end of October, Mr. Salazar will research cacao shade management and its influence on mineral nutrition and cocoa pod yield. Mr. Salazar ultimately hopes to use his Borlaug fellowship’s research outputs to develop optimized cacao management practices under coconut-based farming systems and agroforestry, the two dominant farming systems in the Philippines where cacao trees are integrated.
“Coming up with optimized cacao management practices could eventually result in efficiency of production, and could provide cacao farmers additional incomes and livelihood opportunities. These could also yield agro-ecological benefits in terms of pest and disease management and improve/sustain soil productivity,” Salazar said.
In October, Mr. Salazar will attend the World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium in Iowa and will visit chocolate companies to gain a better understanding of the cocoa value chain.
In the Philippines, Mr. Salazar is a professor in the School of Agriculture at UP Los Baños. He teaches courses ranging from general crop science to ecological agriculture. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from UP Los Baños in agriculture, graduating magna cum laude, and also a Master’s degree in agronomy from UP Los Baños.
For additional WCF research resources, visit:
UPCOMING WCF EVENTS
15-16: 26th Partnership Meeting & Cocoa Sustainability Trade Fair, Copenhagen, Denmark
30-1: 27th Partnership Meeting & Cocoa Sustainability Trade Fair, Washington, DC.
UPCOMING WCF STAFF TRAVEL
Steve Farone, Manager, Performance Measurement Systems
- September 30-October 2: Accra, Ghana
- October 7-10: Copenhagen, Denmark
Bill Guyton, President
- October 9-11: Helsinki, Finland
- October 12-18: Copenhagen, Denmark
- November 16-22: Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire and Accra, Ghana
Virginia Sopyla, Associate Director of Southeast Asia, Latin America & Research
- October 14-18: Des Moines, Iowa, USA
- October 18-22: San Francisco, CA, USA
- October 29-31: Costa Rica
Paul Macek, Senior Director of Programs, West Africa
- October 27-31: Accra, Ghana
- November 3-17: Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
Ethan Budiansky, Deputy Director, WCF Cocoa Livelihoods Program
- November 3-7: Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
Tim McCoy, Senior Advisor, Outreach
- November 16-22: Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire and Accra, Ghana
Additional staff will be traveling to Copenhagen, Denmark, October 13 – 17, for WCF’s 26th Partnership Meeting and Cocoa Sustainability Trade Fair.
WCF welcomes new staff members Rachelle Walker (Accounting and Finance Associate), and Colleen Bickel (Operations Associate) to the team. Both Rachelle and Colleen are based in the Washington, D.C. office. We also wish to extend our best wishes to departing staff member Valerie Beard (Program Assistant, Southeast Asia, Latin America and Research). WCF is pleased to welcome new member BASF Maroc.