Bill Headshot_v3

On June 30 and July 1, 2015, more than 300 leaders in the global cocoa sustainability community, representing 25 countries, gathered in Washington, D.C., for WCF’s 27th Partnership Meeting & Cocoa Sustainability Trade Fair. This year’s meeting coincided with WCF’s 15th anniversary.  Our theme, “Proud of Our Past, Focused on Our Future,” served both as an opportunity to reflect on accomplishments and as a call for accelerating efforts to achieve sustainability in the chocolate and cocoa sector.

Following the precedent established after the 2014 Partnership Meeting in Copenhagen, we are happy to provide you here with a summary of the rich and candid discussions that took place in Washington.

Each of us naturally retains our own memories of the highlights from the 2015 Partnership Meeting.  For me, four key themes emerged as I listened to the discussions and reflected on the meeting after its conclusion:

  • Closer Alignment with the Public Sector in Africa: I was particularly impressed with the personal engagement by some of the most influential public sector leaders in Africa, including Massandjé Touré-Litse, director-general of Le Conseil du Café-Cacao, and Stephen Opuni, chief executive of the Ghana Cocoa Board.  Their perspectives on the changing nature of cocoa farming in their countries provide us with valuable information on how future programming at the farm level might achieve greater results.
  • The Importance of Partnerships: The multi-lateral community was very well represented by Simeon Ehui from the World Bank Group, whose increasing interest in the cocoa sector is especially welcome news.  Industry leaders, including WCF Chairman Barry Parkin and WCF Secretary/Treasurer Terry O’Day, also reminded us about the crucial importance of industry alignment on key, non-competitive aspects of sustainability work, and provided personal examples of this through the central roles they have played in creating the CocoaAction strategy. Longtime supporters in the donor community, including from the U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Jacobs Foundation (our latest major donor partner), stressed the central importance of the public-private partnership model.  They also touched on new and evolving areas of focus, namely gender empowerment, climate change and crop diversification.  Dana Hyde, CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, another new partner, brought a new voice to our discussions.
  • Tackling the Challenges of Community Development, Including Child Labor and Women’s Empowerment: Together, we explored ways to amplify CocoaAction’s impact on community development and benefited greatly from thoughtful insights provided by representatives of industry and civil society.  Eric Biel, from the U.S. Department of Labor, deftly touched on one area of community development by announcing new funding from the U.S. government to reduce child labor.  The U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Krysta Harden, made an impassioned plea for the global agricultural industry to help women achieve greater access to land ownership.
  • Productivity in the Era of Climate Change/Climate-Smart Cocoa: Climate change is by no means a new topic, but we were perhaps introduced in a new way to recent climate research and data, thanks to a riveting presentation by David Titley from The Pennsylvania State University. The sector is now called to look at how cocoa will respond to climate change and to develop adaptation methodologies, including climate-smart agriculture models that allow for continued increases in productivity. Of course, productivity features prominently as one of CocoaAction’s other major focal points (alongside community development). Industry analysts and practitioners spoke about methods for improving yield, including through climate-smart cocoa, as well as farm-level profitability, while underscoring the need for impact measurement and data collection.  These discussions greatly benefited from the perspectives shared by cocoa farmers who joined us from Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.

Lead Article 2Please look out for the official Conference Report in the coming weeks detailing proceedings and key topics from the meeting, and see photos, presentations and more on the WCF website. Mark your calendars for WCF’s next Partnership Meeting: October 26 – 27 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire! I hope to see you there!


On July 30, 2015, a report outlining the status of child labor in West African cocoa-growing areas was released by the U.S. government highlighting some promising signs of progress in combatting child labor, while illustrating the challenges that remain. WCF released the following statement, which underscores that reducing child labor is a shared responsibility:

WCF is deeply concerned that the collective efforts undertaken thus far by the cocoa and chocolate industry, the United States government, the governments of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, and others, have not been sufficient to achieve significant reductions in the number of children working in unacceptable conditions in West Africa, often in circumstances defined as child labor. Reducing the number of children participating in child labor is a shared responsibility of industry, governments, NGOs, civil society, communities and families, among others, and remains a top priority for WCF and our member companies.

We know that achieving reductions in child labor will take a sustained collaborative effort by public and private stakeholders, including through collective platforms such as the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI). Child labor is both a symptom of and contributing factor to poverty, and any approach that aims to eliminate child labor must include a focus on alleviating poverty. The report highlights some promising signs of progress and illustrates the challenges that remain. The research was commissioned by the U.S. government and conducted by Tulane University.

WCF believes that several core interventions are needed to dramatically accelerate progress toward achieving reductions in child labor, and the organization and its members are actively advancing programs in each of the following intervention areas:

  • Improving farmer incomes, especially considering the vast majority of cocoa in West Africa is grown on small, family-owned farms
  • Involving local communities in the effort, including awareness-raising and training of farmers and communities
  • Establishing child labor monitoring and remediation systems in the cocoa supply chain
  • Improving labor efficiency and developing a more formalized adult labor market in cocoa-growing communities that are reinforced by strong regulatory and legal systems
  • Expanding access to quality primary education for all children

The Tulane survey data collected during the 2013/14 cocoa harvest seasons are used to identify children’s exposure to child labor and hazardous work, and the estimates provided are representative of agricultural households in cocoa-growing areas of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. According to the recent data collection, and in comparison to the data collection during the 2008/09 harvest season, there was a more than 20 percent reduction in the number of Ivorian children who were exposed to many types of hazardous work, and in Ghana a 14 percent reduction in the number of children exposed to multiple hazards. In Côte d’Ivoire, a smaller percentage of children were found in child labor based on working hours. Most notably, the number of children in child labor in Ghana decreased by nearly 30,000, with a 9 percent decrease in the number of children in hazardous work. Results in both countries were impacted by strong growth in both cocoa production and population.

According to the Tulane survey, substantial gains in education are continuing in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. More children are attending school in both countries – in Ghana, 96 percent of children in cocoa production attended school during the 2013/14 school year. In Côte d’Ivoire, 71 percent of children in cocoa production attended school during the same period of time, a 12 percent increase since the data collection of 2008/09. The governments of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire have implemented several initiatives to address child labor. In Ghana, the government has created the National Steering Committee on Child Labor, District Child Protection Committees coordinated by the Child Labor Unit, and the National Program for the Elimination of Worst Forms of Child Labor in Cocoa. The Ivorian government is moving quickly toward making education compulsory for children ages 6 to 16 for the first time, beginning September 2015. First Lady Dominique Ouattara has been a tireless champion for the children of Côte d’Ivoire, including her leadership role on the National Monitoring Committee for Actions to Fight against Trafficking, Exploitation and Child Labor (CNS). WCF and its members are investing in a variety of formal and informal education initiatives. It is widely accepted that when access to education increases, there are reductions in child labor.

In addition to substantial obligations made by the Ivorian and Ghanaian governments, the cocoa and chocolate industry is investing more than $500 million in cocoa sustainability. Industry is determined to accelerate its collective efforts to achieve reductions in child labor in a number of ways. CocoaAction was established in May 2014 by WCF and the world’s leading chocolate and cocoa companies, in close consultation with the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, to advance sustainability and improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers in both countries, with plans to work in 1,200 cocoa-growing communities in the years ahead, reaching more than 300,000 farmers and their families.

CocoaAction, existing WCF programs, other industry-led initiatives, and ICI-led interventions seek to reduce the occurrence of farm-level practices that, in the past, have too frequently involved the use of children. These efforts include:

  • Programs to support education activities in Côte d’Ivoire that are reaching tens of thousands of children in cocoa-growing areas
  • Programs to strengthen child protection in cocoa-growing communities, such as those implemented by ICI, whose work in more than 500 communities since 2007 has led to improved access to quality education for more than 50,000 children
  • Organizing farmer field schools and increasing farmers’ awareness about the risks and dangers of child labor
  • Training teams of professionals to safely apply agrochemicals to cocoa farms in areas where children have previously been involved in this task
  • Leading informational child labor awareness sessions, which, in 2014 alone, were attended by more than 12,000 farmers and 35,000 community members
  • Within farmer field schools, demonstrating best practices regarding pesticide spraying, reaching 24 cooperatives and 11,000 farmers
  • Training cocoa farmers to open cocoa pods with wooden mallets rather than machetes, a practice that is not only safer for the farmer but improves cocoa quality and yields
  • Helping to train and certify nearly 400,000 farmers in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, with external studies showing that children of certified farmers attend school 30 percent more than children of farmers who are not certified

CocoaAction’s strength lies in combining community development and productivity with the intention of raising farm level incomes, an approach that’s an important driver for change in cocoa-growing communities. WCF is confident that continued close collaboration among those who share responsibility in reducing child labor in West Africa, including the governments of cocoa-producing countries and continued involvement by the U.S. Department of Labor as well as Congressional participation, will lead to increased sustainability in the cocoa sector and necessary reductions in child labor.



What do we know about the role of men and women in cocoa communities? What have we learned, and how can we best apply these lessons to advance gender equality in the cocoa value chain?

Gender 2
Leland Fellow Elizabeth Kiewisch conducing interviews in Côte d’Ivoire.

These questions, among others, were part of a recent study on gender dynamics in the household that was conducted by WCF Leland Fellow Elizabeth Kiewisch. Her research investigated the implications of gender dynamics for food security and resilience through field research in Côte d’Ivoire. Some of the research findings include that men and women in cocoa communities often have separate incomes, which are not shared with each other. While both men and women contribute to household expenses, they cannot plan jointly as a household because of the separation of income. Women, who tend to spend proportionally more than men on household welfare, typically have less income as well as less influence on household spending.

Gender in cocoa communities was also a focus during WCF’s Partnership Meeting. During a panel discussion dedicated to gender, participants Tawiah Agyarko-Kwarteng from The Hershey Company, Marina Morari from Barry Callebaut, Cathy Pieters from Mondelēz, and Sarah Zoen from Oxfam, drew on their experiences working in the cocoa sector as well as other value chains to explore best practices in women’s empowerment.

Gender 1
A research participant in Côte d’Ivoire.

Also present were several entrepreneurial female cocoa farmers from Côte d’Ivoire who were sponsored by le Conseil du Café-Cacao. They emphasized the importance of hearing directly from women farmers. Panelists highlighted linkages between women’s empowerment and educational opportunities, health, child labor eradication, the importance of addressing women’s often disproportionate time burden, and of including men in gender initiatives as best practices for gender equality.

Empowering women and improving household collaboration has the potential to strengthen cocoa households’ resilience, as well as the cocoa value chain itself. Looking forward, WCF will leverage this insight to empower cocoa farmers and their communities through its programs and initiatives.



ProductivityAccess to finance is a challenge for small enterprises around the world. Most traditional financial institutions also view agriculture as a risky sector to which lending must be done with extreme caution. The small holder cocoa farmer is in a doubly difficult position when it comes to accessing financing to obtain farm inputs like fertilizers and agro chemicals.

To help address this problem, WCF’s African Cocoa Initiative (WCF/ACI) piloted an input credit system in Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria to test a partnership where the perceived credit risks are shared by the participants. WCF/ACI contracted TechnoServe to design and implement the system. Additional partners in the program included a farmer organization, a financial institution, an input supplier and an exporter/processor.

Under the pilot, each solidarity group or cooperative opens a bank account with the participating financial institution and deposits 20% of the total value of inputs required. The input supplier delivers the inputs to the farmer group and gets paid by the financial institution based on an agreed 90% of the total value of inputs delivered. At harvest, the farmer group collects cocoa beans from participating members and delivers them to the exporter/processor. The exporter/processor then deducts from the delivery of beans an agreed upon percentage of the loan and repays it to the financial institution.

Through these partnerships a total of $180,000 worth of input credit was paid to 914 farmers who maintained repayment rates of 99%. In Côte d’Ivoire, 531 farmers received nearly $110,000 and the repayment rate was 100%. In Nigeria, 383 farmers received nearly $70,000 in credit with a 98% repayment rate.



Edwin Afari, WCF Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator, West Africa, demonstrates farm measurement approaches to CocoaAction company members for their deliberation and alignment.

CocoaAction member companies have agreed on the vision, strategy and broad indicators they will use to measure progress in cocoa sustainability. The CocoaAction vision focuses on a rejuvenated and economically viable cocoa sector that can compete with alternative crops and provide opportunity to cocoa farmers and cocoa communities.   In order to achieve this, there needs to be increased cocoa-income earning potential for targeted CocoaAction farmers and improved social and economic opportunities in CocoaAction assisted communities. With this in mind, CocoaAction companies recently came together for three days of discussion, debate and collaboration in Côte d’Ivoire.

CocoaAction has a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) workstream that focuses on what and how to measure progress for use in both overall reporting and also for learning. Before companies begin to collect CocoaAction data, they need to align on how they will collect it – in terms of methodologies or criteria to ensure that what is collected by one company can be added to the results of another company to produce the CocoaAction aggregated results.

The meetings in Côte d’Ivoire focused on the productivity side of the CocoaAction strategy and activities. Farmer productivity will increase based on the combination of

  • Adoption of good agricultural practices;
  • Adoption of promoted rehabilitation techniques using recommended planting materials
  • Adoption of good soil fertility management practices

The group discussed different ways to measure progress in these areas and had the opportunity to test monitoring tools on a cocoa farm.

At the Nestle R&D facility in Abidjan, CocoaAction representatives are joined by partners from CNRA and ANADER to discuss on-farm measurement approaches.


The group concluded the meeting with a set of draft recommendations for the broader CocoaAction group regarding minimum criteria to ensure that all cocoa companies are reporting similar data regarding the farmer behaviors related to CocoaAction productivity interventions.  Once these recommendations are fully signed off on, companies will begin to collect and report on data related to the CocoaAction indicators.



World Cocoa Foundation Gala Womens Art Museum Washington DC
Dana Hyde, CEO, Millennium Challenge Corporation.

During WCF’s 15th Anniversary Gala Dinner celebration on June 30, guest Speaker Dana Hyde, CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), provided remarks that focused on the importance of public-private partnerships and sustainable growth in the development field. A big focus of Ms. Hyde’s speech was on MCC’s commitment in Indonesia – the biggest cocoa producer outside of Africa – and new in-country partnerships that involve WCF and member-companies.

The programs are the first of their kind for targeting both income growth and environmental protection. Ms. Hyde stressed the importance of partnerships to reach their goals, as well as the need to ensure that lessons learned during the partnership are shared and applied in the development community. “Development is not about a transfer of funds; it is about what countries themselves do to lift their people up,” she stressed.

WCF plans to work closely with Swisscontact, MCC and member companies on improving cocoa farmer livelihoods in Indonesia in the coming years.

Learn more about MCC’s efforts in Indonesia here.

Read Ms. Hyde’s full speech here.


Every year since 2013, WCF welcomes agricultural professionals from the public sector who are involved in cocoa-related agricultural trade, agribusiness development, management, policy, or marketing to the United States to participate in a 2-3 week training opportunity. The program, called the Cocoa Cochran Fellowship Program, is hosted by WCF in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service. This past July, WCF welcomed five fellows from Latin America who participated in a two-week study tour in Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and California.

The goals of the USDA Cochran Fellowship Program are to help eligible countries develop agricultural systems that meet the food and fiber needs of their domestic populations, and to strengthen and enhance trade linkages between eligible countries and agricultural interests in the United States. This year’s Cocoa Cochran Fellowship Program focused on the topic of flavor and quality. The program was designed to improve fellows’ understanding of how US companies approach flavor evaluation and quality testing, the market for fine flavor cocoa, and different companies’ perspectives on flavor and quality preferences. Since its inception in 2013, WCF has hosted 13 Cocoa Cochran fellows from the three major cocoa-growing regions.

Latin America
Left to Right: Neyde Alice Bello Marques Pereira, Marco Guilcapi, Darwin Martinez, Cristina “Kika” Arantes, Julian Mateus, Andrea Ramirez, John Kehoe at the Kika’s Treats facility in San Francisco, Califonia.

This year’s fellows hailed from Brazil, Colombia, and Ecuador with a range of backgrounds and interests. WCF had the opportunity to sit down with them before their study tour to discuss what they hoped to gain from the fellowship, how they could apply their new knowledge, and what the cocoa industry could learn from their countries.

Neyde Pereira from Brazil’s Executive Commission of Cocoa Plantations (CEPLAC) was interested in the program to learn how to address challenges of cocoa quality in Brazil. Ensuring cocoa remains competitive is an ongoing challenge in Brazil, she stated, which she hoped to learn more about during the fellowship.

Two fellows from Colombia joined the program; Darwin Martinez from the National Federation of Cocoa Farmers (Fedecacao), and Julian Mateus from the Colombian Agricultural Research Corporation (Corpoica). Darwin noted that through the fellowship, he hoped to learn more about the quality and flavor needs of the American chocolate industry in order to adapt the product in Colombia. Julian echoed his comments and shared that his interest in the program was centered on issues related to cocoa quality.

The two fellows from Ecuador, Marco Guilcapi and Andrea Ramirez both represented the Ministry of Agriculture. Marco stated that his interest in the program involved better understanding U.S. market needs and future trends. Andrea commented that she was interested in learning more about the major companies involved in the U.S. in order to better understand the market.

Latin America 2
Left to Right: Fellows listen to Michael Recchiuti during their visit to the Recchiuti Confections Laboratory visit.

The two-week study tour included visits to several WCF member company and partner facilities including United States Department of Agriculture, Camden International Commodities Terminal, Guittard Chocolate Company, The Hershey Company, and TCHO and non-member companies Recchiuti Confections and Kika’s Treats.

For any questions or comments please contact Ben Brennan.



The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service, in cooperation with WCF, is pleased to announce that the WCF/USDA Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellowship Program – Global Cocoa Initiative is now accepting applications from candidates located in Latin America. The program sponsors scientific researchers from universities or public institutions to complete a two to three month research Fellowships in the United States, acquiring skills and knowledge that can be shared broadly upon their return.

For more information and to apply visit

For additional WCF research resources, visit:






October 26 – 27: Partnership Meeting & Cocoa Sustainability Trade Fair,
Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire


Bill Guyton, President

  • September 23-24: London, United Kingdom
  • September 28 – October 2: Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

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

  • September 7-11: El Salvador

Ben Brennan, Program Assistant, Latin America & Research

  • September 7-11: El Salvador

Paul Macek, Senior Program Director, West Africa

  • September 8 – 11: Belgium and the Netherlands

Nira Desai, Deputy Director, CocoaAction

  • September 22 – 25: London, U.K.

Tim McCoy, Senior Advisor, Outreach

  • September 28-October 7: Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

Jackie Marks, Communications & Marketing Manager

  • September 28-October 7: Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire



WCF would like to extend a warm welcome to Hermann Tanon (Administrative Assistant) and Ella Assie (Accounting and Administrative Junior Associate) who both joined WCF in its Abidjan office. WCF also welcomes Gaël Lescornec (WCF Europe) who is based in Switzerland.

WCF extends its best wishes to departing interns Jenny Wittann (Communications & Outreach), Sierra Leder (Communications & Outreach), and Sarah Clark (Finance) on their future endeavors.