WELCOMING NEW LEADERSHIP                                               AND STRATEGIC DIRECTION

As a private sector-supported organization, WCF highly values the contributions made by our 110 members who dedicate their time, energy and financial resources to helping ensure our success. On February 5, during a Board of Directors’ meeting near Amsterdam, WCF welcomed three new officers who exemplify this dedication and who will help lead our organization over the next two years. They are Juergen Steinemann, CEO of Barry Callebaut (co-vice chair), Barry Parkin, chief sustainability officer at Mars, Incorporated (co-vice chair), and Scott Walker, president of ADM Cocoa (secretary/treasurer). By the end of this year, Nicko Debenham, director-head of cocoa at Armajaro, will have completed his second year as WCF chairman. Please visit for a complete listing of Board of Directors members.

The broader WCF membership is represented on the Membership Assembly, which meets twice annually and consists of representatives from every WCF member. Our Technical Working Committee is composed of company experts and oversees technical coordination of programs.

Based on strategic planning carried out in 2013, WCF will focus its energies on six priority areas where we feel we are best placed to make a measurable and significant impact in advancing cocoa sustainability. These priorities, collectively known as “CocoaAction”, include:

  • Planting materials to replace unproductive trees with those that are more disease and pest resistant;
  • Fertilizer access for farmers, matched to soil conditions and with proper financing;
  • Community development activities which are inclusive of women and which provide support for the next generation of cocoa farmers;
  • Outreach and alignment with governments, development agencies and technical experts
  • Innovations using new technologies such as mobile phones, are presenting unprecedented opportunities for reaching farmers.
  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)/Farmer Economics/Standards & Certification

We are excited to channel our efforts around these strategic areas and look forward to sharing further details at our upcoming Partnership Meetings in Denpasar (Bali) Indonesia and Copenhagen, Denmark.


Denmark_Copenhagen_docksWCF and Denmark’s Toms Foundation are joining forces to convene later this year a cross-section of representatives from the chocolate and cocoa industry, cocoa-producing countries, development agencies, donor groups, non-governmental organizations and cocoa-certifying bodies. The gathering, to be held October 15-16, 2014, in Copenhagen, will focus on improving efforts to boost incomes, production levels, quality of life and technology for the world’s five million-plus cocoa farmers.

Bill Guyton, president of WCF, said that the partnership with Toms Foundation is a natural choice for his organization. “Toms Foundation and WCF share a commitment to helping cocoa farmers improve their livelihoods. WCF’s membership of more than 110 companies from around the world possesses some of the world’s best expertise about sustainability in the cocoa sector. We look forward to learning more from them, and from our friends in Denmark, about practical steps that can be taken to advance the sustainability agenda,” he said.

Jesper Moeller, CEO of Toms Confectionery Group, said, “At Toms we are proud to enter this partnership with the World Cocoa Foundation. We look forward to welcoming the participants to Copenhagen in October and value the opportunity to share our experiences from Ghana in areas such as traceable cocoa, farmer training and primary school programs.”

The meeting, which is expected to attract 200 attendees, will include sessions on new strategies for providing improved planting materials to cocoa farmers; plans for making fertilizers and other essential inputs more readily available to farmers; updates on efforts to establish widely agreed upon standards for quality and sustainability; defining and measuring success in programs that support cocoa farmers; the importance of educational, gender equality and child labor reduction programming in cocoa-growing communities; and recent innovations in technology and program implementation that can hasten improvements in the lives of cocoa farmers.

Registration for the meeting will open June 2014. Additional information, including sponsorship opportunities, will be available on the WCF website from June 1.



In many  cocoa-growing communities in West Africa, opportunities and resources for women are limited. Much of the cocoa farming and income generating is traditionally done by men, while women  produce food for the family, keep the children in school and run the household finances. Many of these women have little or no formal education,  further limiting their options. As 21-year old  Veronique Kouame Zibou Brou, a mother from Zibaoyoukro, Côte d’Ivoire, said, “my situation is similar to that of anyone in a rural area, where quality of life  is very low.”

To expand opportunities for women and  support youth education, WCF’s Cocoa Community Development Fund is providing family support scholarships  to women like Veronique who have school-aged children and would like to start a small business or other income-generating activity. After the women have completed a business skills workshop, the scholarship also provides resources for the women to invest in a business, or apply for a small loan. With the support from WCF, the women  are able to pay their children’s school fees, receive better healthcare and contribute financially to the household.

So far 320 scholarships have been awarded in the first year of the program. In July, Veronique was selected by her community leaders to receive a scholarship. She has used it to keep her child in school and increase the vegetable production of her garden, selling the surplus for profit. According to Veronique, “The grant invested will generate profit, which will allow for a better schooling of my child. Since our expenses for schooling are now greatly reduced, we can benefit from better health care.This is a great change in my life, and for my family.” 



The WCF African Cocoa Initiative (ACI), in conjunction with the African Cocoa Breeders Working Group (ACBWG), will organize a one-time symposium on the next generation of cocoa research November 10 – 14, 2014, in Ibadan, Nigeria. The symposium will bring together nearly 300 researchers, academics, industry representatives and other stakeholders in the West African cocoa sector to discuss research priorities across both the public and private sector platforms going forward. The symposium will  examine the future of cocoa research needsin the wake of new challenges, threats and opportunities.

Sona Ebai, chief of party for ACI, says, “the objective of the symposium is to examine the future of cocoa research needs in the wake of new challenges, threats and opportunities. This meeting will be instrumental towards setting a modern agenda for cocoa research in Africa and contribute to the development of country-based strategies for cocoa science and research, both basic and applied.”

100,000 seedlings ready for grafting

There remains a strong need for applied research and innovation, especially in the area of labor-saving technologies, which is one of the key factors in attracting youth to the business. The symposium will focus on the following topics:

  • GENETIC RESOURCES AND GENOMICS: Genetic resources, planting material, genomic-accelerated breeding, etc.
  • POST-HARVEST HANDLING AND QUALITY (Bean-to-Bar): Post harvest losses, quality-related issues of flavor, nutrition, food safety, etc.
  • VALUE CHAIN ISSUES (Public Private Partnership Platforms): Markets, institutions, value addition, national capacity, policies, etc.
  • CLIMATE CHANGE: Soil fertility, agronomy, agro-forestry, diversification and intensification, good agricultural practices (GAP), changing cocoa agro-ecology and mitigation plans, etc.
  • MECHANIZATION/ LABOR-SAVING TECHNOLOGY: Dwarf varieties (breeding), architecture, pod-breaking equipment, market-driven farmer services, service centers, agro-inputs, etc.

The symposium will contribute to the development of country-based strategies of cocoa science and research, both basic and applied. WCF will post specific registration materials in the coming months on its website.

For more information, email Sona Ebai at


WCF AWARDS GRANT TO CONTROL VSD                                 IN SOUTHEAST ASIA 


WCF and Ford Foundation awarded a new research grant for the study of vascular streak dieback (VSD) control in Sulawesi, Indonesia. The applied research grant will be used by the Cocoa Research Group at Hasanuddin University and will last three years.

VSD is a disease affecting cocoa trees and is caused by a fungus known as Ceratobasidium theobromae. The disease resides in the xylem of the plant, and is therefore difficult to treat with fungicide. Xylem is a type of transport tissue in vascular plants that transports water and basic nutrients. Indonesia’s cocoa production occurs mainly in Sulawesi, but productivity levels have declined in the last ten years due partly to pest and diseases like VSD.

This research project will use endophytic Trichoderma application to control the disease; the microorganism can penetrate to the xylem. Through soil application and spraying, the researchers at Hasanuddin University will assess the effectiveness of the Trichoderma on shoot grafts, grafted trees and older trees. Two villages in South Sulawesi will be the primary focus of the research, and have been infested with VSD since 2010. The project expects to reach six farmer groups in Bantaeng Regency, South Sulawesi over the three year period.

The WCF-Ford Foundation Indonesia Applied Research & Extension Grants program’s goals include, 1) improve the quality of life for cocoa-farming families and the quality of their cocoa production, 2) advance the transfer of technology/research from laboratory to the cocoa farm through participatory field trials with the active involvement of farmers and the development of extension materials and training approaches, 3) further development of innovative technologies and training approaches that are locally appropriate. Two other projects have been awarded and will be highlighted in future newsletters.



Global cocoa sustainability stakeholders will gather in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, on May 15-16, 2014 for the 6th Indonesian International Cocoa Conference co-hosted by ASKINDO and WCF. More than 500 guests representing the chocolate and cocoa industry, governments, NGOs, academia, and research institutes from Asia, Australia, the Americas, Africa, and Europe will use the occasion to learn about the latest developments in efforts to ensure greater sustainability in the sector.

“We are pleased to partner with ASKINDO to co-host the conference,” said Bill Guyton, WCF president. “The theme of Empowering Smallholders for a Sustainable Cocoa Industry speaks to our organization’s mission, and is highly relevant to the cocoa sector today – both within Indonesia and globally. Indonesia is the world’s third largest cocoa-producing country and cocoa is an important source of income for hundreds of thousands of smallholder farmers here.”

The agenda for the conference covers topics including challenges and opportunities for smallholder cocoa farmers, global perspectives on production, and certification. Speakers for the event include the Minister of Trade, Minister of Agriculture, Minister of Industry, as well as the president of Mars Symbioscience, president of Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate, and chief operating officer of BT Cocoa, among others.

Sponsors for the event include: Barry Callebaut, BT Cocoa, Cargill, Guan Chong, Mars Incorporated, Mondelēz International, Olam International Ltd. and Transmar Group. Simultaneous translation from English to Bahasa Indonesia and Bahasa Indonesia to English will be available for the duration of the conference.

Learn more and register at



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:






APRIL 2014

11: CLP Planning Meeting (TBC)

MAY 2014

15-16: 6th Indonesian International Cocoa Conference and WCF’s 25th Partnership Meeting, Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia

JUNE 2014

10: CLP Steering Committee Meeting, Amsterdam, Netherlands


15-16: 26th Partnership Meeting & Cocoa Sustainability Trade Fair, Copenhagen, Denmark


10-14: Symposium on the “Next Generation” of Cocoa Research for the West and Central African Cocoa Region, Ibadan, Nigeria



Bill Guyton, President

  • April 7-11: Accra, Ghana and Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

Tim McCoy, Senior Advisor, Outreach

  • April 7-11: Accra, Ghana and Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

Ethan Budiansky, Deputy Director, WCF Cocoa Livelihoods Program

  • March 10-21: Accra, Ghana; Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
  • April 14-18: Accra, Ghana; Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

Virginia Sopyla, Associate Director, Southeast Asia, Latin America & Research

  • March 30April 9: Colombia
  • April 13-16: Lancaster, PA (PMCA)

Holly Houston, Director of Operations and Finance

  • April 9: New York, NY

Jackie Marks, Communications and Marketing Manager

  • April 13: Lancaster, PA (PMCA)



Since December 2013, WCF has welcomed new member Liberia Cocoa Corp. WCF also welcomes new staff members Adam Mayaki (Grants Manager, D.C.) and Alisha Rodrigues (Executive Assistant, D.C.).