The beginning of a new year is always a time of anticipation. This is especially true for WCF as we begin 2016. January 1 marked the start of a new era at WCF, with the organization under new interim leadership and looking forward to a new permanent president well before the year’s end. I am honored by the confidence that the Board of Directors has placed in me to serve as Acting President and am especially grateful to members and key partners who have taken a special interest in the leadership transition process by providing advice and support. Despite the transition, there is a “business as usual” focus to our work that benefits from the strong leadership of our programs by Paul Macek and expert oversight of our finances and operations by Jill Harris, as well as exceptionally dedicated staff at all levels of the organization.
2016 will be a year filled with challenges and opportunities for advancing the global cocoa sustainability agenda. Chief among these is CocoaAction. The goal of CocoaAction is to reach at least 300,000 cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana with a combined package of productivity and community development interventions that will lead to measurable improvements in farmer livelihoods and quality of life in the communities where they live. We look forward to providing support to members that will begin implementation of CocoaAction this year. We also plan to enhance our communications and outreach efforts so that all of our stakeholders develop a fuller understanding of what CocoaAction is and what it intends to achieve, as well as how a greater number of WCF’s members can become involved. Deepening our engagement with the Ivorian and Ghanaian governments will continue to be a priority.
We are already reminded that previously unforeseen factors, such as climate change, require us to incorporate new learnings into our work. We recently surveyed WCF members for their input on the organization’s potential as a knowledge platform about the impact of climate change on cocoa. Many members closely followed the COP21 climate meetings in Paris late last year, while others have already publicly stated their perspectives on climate change. We can imagine in the near future an industry-wide consensus on how climate change may affect cocoa. Following further analysis of the survey’s findings, we expect to announce more about specific activities that WCF will undertake on this urgent topic.
This year presents numerous opportunities for WCF to nurture relations with sister organizations and others who share our commitment to improving the lives of cocoa farmers. In late October, WCF convenes our annual Partnership Meeting, along with a meeting of our Board of Directors and Membership Assembly, in Abidjan. We are delighted to partner with Le Conseil du Cafe-Cacao in organizing the Partnership Meeting. We are hopeful that President Alassane Ouattara and First Lady Dominique Ouattara will lead the list of VIPs at the meeting. Other collaborative opportunities for us this year include the late April Public-Private Partnership Platform plenary session in Côte d’Ivoire, the International Cocoa Organization’s World Cocoa Conference, taking place in May in the Dominican Republic, and Chocovision, slated for June in Switzerland.
As we embark on this landmark year for WCF and on behalf of the entire leadership team at WCF, I hope that all of you are able to share in our excitement. We know that there is more work to be done than ever before if we are to deliver on our mission. With your continued support and guidance, WCF will meet the challenges ahead.
Best wishes for a prosperous and healthy 2016!
FROM COMMITMENT TO ACTION:
FORGING A PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP
FOR QUALITY EDUCATION
Nine months after the announcement of a USD 52 million commitment to create the Transforming Education in Cocoa Communities (TRECC) program, it has gained a growing coalition of public and private stakeholders aligning capital and knowledge to improve the quality of education in Côte d’Ivoire. TRECC was officially launched by the Jacobs Foundation on February 17th in Abidjan with the backing of WCF and the cocoa and chocolate industry, the Ivorian government, and additional committed partners. TRECC aims to improve the quality of life of all children and youth in Côte d’Ivoire, while focusing on delivering quality education in cocoa-growing communities. The program was designed and initially financed by the Jacobs Foundation to capitalize on three key opportunities: the high priority the Ivorian Government has set on improving educational outcomes for all children and youth in the country; the unprecedented and aligned commitment of the cocoa and chocolate industry and the Ivorian Government to improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers; and on the growing entrepreneurial power of smallholder farmers and civil society organizations to advance quality education at all levels.
In TRECC’s 2020 vision, education in Côte d’Ivoire should enable individuals to lead healthy and fulfilled lives, be able to respond to their own challenges, and pursue goals that they value. This vision is based upon the belief that education must begin at home with parents nurturing creativity and knowledge of their children, go on to ensure the acquisition of foundational skills of literacy and numeracy through primary level, and further build analytical and non-cognitive skills that are essential to improve youth’s livelihoods through quality income generating opportunities.
Following its initial presentation at the Clinton Global Initiative in May 2015, TRECC has gained momentum by forging partnerships with government, industry, and other international education funders. First year milestones include the forthcoming implementation of joint education projects co-financed with the cocoa industry; the engagement of Bernard Van Leer Foundation, committing additional capital for an early childhood development component, and the joint design of pilot projects involving educational technologies with the Ministry of Education. As TRECC seeks to facilitate the financial engagement of further stakeholders and funders investing in education, additional funding of USD 50 million is expected to be mobilized over the course of the next five years.
Approximately 8 million Ivoirians depend on cocoa farming, an industry dominated by 800,000 smallholder farmers who live substantially below the poverty line. In rural areas, 45 percent of 6 to 12 year olds are not enrolled in school. Among 15 to 24 year olds, roughly two-thirds (63 percent) have not completed primary school, and one in three youth has never attended school at all.
The Jacobs Foundation entered into a strategic partnership with WCF to align the efforts of the industry-wide sustainability strategy CocoaAction and TRECC.
Noting that CocoaAction member companies recognize the importance of quality education for the sustainability of the industry, among its other activities, TRECC will work with CocoaAction members to design and implement impactful interventions contributing to socio-economic improvements in rural communities which are vital to the long-term development of Côte d’Ivoire.
FOR PROGRAM EVALUATION
A key challenge in promoting the sustainability of the cocoa sector is the development of an aligned understanding across its stakeholders of how to measure and express performance. Across the cocoa sector, there are a multitude of stakeholders invested in measurement and it is important to invest time to meet, discuss and align how we measure and communicate performance of programs and initiatives in a common way. After all, this is the basis of our learning about all our deliberate actions to steer the cocoa sector into a more sustainable future.
WCF offers cocoa stakeholders a platform to discuss the alignment of performance measurement under a shared strategy—CocoaAction. Program implementers in the cocoa sector have an interest to learn how these collective impact groups define core concepts of sustainable cocoa practice and about criteria for an aligned measurement approach. Typically program focus, budgets and deadlines are not identical, thus few measurement approaches will be totally aligned. WCF’s emphasis rests on core concepts which can be adapted across programs, companies and organizations. Cocoa stakeholders are currently making large strides in agreeing on fundamentals such as: what are the types of good agricultural practices that we want to assess? How can we better understand if women experience progress from sustainability interventions?
Sharing these learnings is important to build a stronger sector. One cocoa sustainability program that is finalizing its performance measurement approach is “Pro Planteurs” by German development agency “Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit” (GIZ). Through the Pro Planteur program, approximately 20,000 cocoa farming families and about 50 farmer organizations will be supported with professionalization, nutritional education and support for income generating activities by 2020. The German “COMO Consult GmbH” and the Ivorian “Rongead” formed a team in order to assess the current social and farming conditions across the future participants of “Pro Planteurs”. This allows the program to express their progress over time and frame their learning.
WCF met with the program management team for three days in January to provide support and share with each other the best-practices for performance management. Together, and through efforts like these, the cocoa sector is moving closer to understanding and communicating cocoa sustainability progress in a shared language.
SUPPORTING COCOA RESEARCH COLLABORATION
IN THE AMERICAS
In November 2015, WCF welcomed six new Fellows from Latin America to the Cocoa Borlaug Fellowship program. The program, managed by WCF and the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA/FAS), supports a two-to-three-month research exchange at institutions in the United States where fellows acquire cocoa research skills and knowledge that they will share upon their return to their home institutions. Learn more about the Fellows and their cocoa research.
Jamie Andres Osorio and Viviana Lucía Cuarán represent Colombia during their Fellowships. Osorio joins the Fellowship from Colombia’s agricultural research group, Corpoica, and will focus his research on plant tissue and Marker Assisted Selection (MAS). Cuarán represents Colombia’s national cocoa federation, Fedecacao, and will focus on molecular techniques of cocoa breeding for disease resistance and enhanced productivity.Representing Costa Rica’s tropical agricultural research center, CATIE, are Adriana Arciniegas and Allan Mata Quiros. The goal of Arciniegas’ research is to identify, select, and promote new varieties of cacao with desirable performance traits, including high yield and disease resistance. Mata’s research will focus on molecular characterization of traditional and improved cacao germplasm. Both Fellows intend to support research that leads to modernized plantations, increased farmer incomes, and improved living conditions of cacao communities.
Wilton Cespedes joins the Borlaug Fellowship from Peru’s San Antonio Abad del Cusco National University. His goal is to collect native cocoa from the Apurimac, Ene, and Urubamba valleys in order to study molecular variabilities.
The sixth Fellow joining the program is Annelle Holder John from the Cocoa Research Centre at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad & Tobago. Her focus is on improved propagation and orchard management methods.
Host institutions for this group include the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Services in Beltsville, Maryland and Miami, Florida, and the Pennsylvania State University.
WCF is looking forward to welcoming the six Fellows to the United States and to helping further collaboration on cocoa research in Latin America.
CELEBRATING COCOA FELLOWSHIP ALUMNI
IN SOUTHEAST ASIA
WCF hosted the Cocoa Borlaug Fellowship Alumni Workshop in Makassar, Indonesia in January with the goal of connecting and strengthening the network of Alumni, and giving them an opportunity to share their experience and perspectives since completing the program. Ten alumni from Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines attended the workshop which was organized by WCF and co-hosted by Hasanuddin University with sponsorship from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Day one involved a visit to the Bantaeng District south of the city of Makassar. The trip gave alumni the opportunity to see field trials investigating vascular streak dieback (VSD) prevention methods being undertaken by Hasanuddin University. VSD is a major disease impacting cocoa production in the Southeast Asia region.
The following two days included presentations from each Alumni highlighting their scope of work and the impact the Cocoa Borlaug Fellowship had on their lives, both professionally and personally. The Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture at Hasanuddin University, Professor Dr. Ir. Sumbangan Baja, M. Phil, provided opening remarks and spoke of the importance of cocoa in Indonesia and its significance in the agriculture sector. He also touched on the severe infestation of cocoa pod borer and vascular streak dieback diseases and their impact on production in the country.
The workshop was an opportunity for the Fellows to connect with one another, share how the Fellowship impacted their careers, and build a network for future cocoa research. One alumnus shared that as a result of the work she completed through the Fellowship, her home institution constructed a lab specifically for her to continue conducting research. Another Fellow commented that the Fellowship served as the pathway to pursue a PhD.
The workshop provoked rich dialogue and knowledge sharing across various research topics – an important component of furthering sustainability in the cocoa sector. The Aumni intend to continue collaborating on research opportunities and sharing information among the network.
For additional WCF research resources, visit:
COCOA INDUSTRY EVENTS
March 9 – 11: 2nd Cocoa Revolution, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
UPCOMING WCF STAFF TRAVEL
Tim McCoy, Acting President
- March 7 – 10: Marbach, Germany
Jill Harris, Senior Director of Finance and Operations
- March 7 – 10: Marbach, Germany
Paul Macek, Senior Program Director, West Africa
- March 7 – 10: Marbach, Germany
- March 28 – April 1: Accra, Ghana
Nira Desai, Deputy Director, CocoaAction
- March 21 – 25: London, UK
STAFF & MEMBER UPDATES
WCF is thrilled to welcome Clasen Quality Coatings, Inc. (CQC) as its newest member.
WCF warmly welcomes Elizabeth Burst (Accounting Assistant), Bernadette LeMasters (Research Exchange Program Assistant), and Amanda Zeigler (Communications Intern) to the DC Office. WCF is happy to announce David Short (M&E Consultant) is joining our international Monitoring & Evaluation Team. After 15 productive years leading the chocolate industry on cocoa sustainability, WCF extends its thanks and best wishes to Bill Guyton (President) on future endeavors.