WCF’s Partnership Meeting in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on October 15-16 provided a great opportunity to reflect on lessons learned and changes that have occurred in Latin America’s cocoa sector since the last time WCF organized a Partnership Meeting in the region, in Guayaquil, Ecuador in May 2008. During the intervening five years, Ecuador has nearly doubled its national cocoa production. In the Dominican Republic, the quality and quantity of cocoa has been transformed, and the country now benefits from a market that is more segmented and demands premiums internationally. How did these changes occur over a relatively short period of time, and what can be learned from Latin American models that could help cocoa farmers in other cocoa producing regions?

Two interesting presentations were made at the Santo Domingo Partnership Meeting. One, by Alberto Nacer of the Transmar Group, and the other by Vincent Zeller of Chorrera NV,  highlighted the transformation that has taken place in Ecuador. To me, it is clear that a number of factors were responsible for the growth in Ecuador’s cocoa sector. First and foremost, cocoa farmers benefited from a government rehabilitation program, complemented by private sector led initiatives supported by NGOs and farmer cooperatives. There was also a concerted effort to reposition cocoa from being a small holder subsistence crop to one that follows small agribusiness models. Ecuadorean farmers were trained on farm management and good agricultural practices. Another factor in Ecuador’s success was that new higher yielding trees planted a few years ago are now starting to bear pods. Many of the country’s farms are also larger in size.

In the Dominican Republic, industry has provided creative value-added models that include centralized fermentation, which leads to more uniform quality cocoa. I had the memorable opportunity to visit WCF company members’ operations and was impressed by how they are directly working with farmers to provide training and inputs. Computerized databases enable traceability and the ability to certify products, based on market demands.

Although each cocoa producing region is different, I believe there are important learnings from Latin America that should be shared. It is my hope that, by the next time WCF holds a Partnership Meeting in Latin America, we will be able to see even greater advancements in the region’s cocoa sector.


WCF’s 24th Partnership meeting took place in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on October 15 – 16, 2013. The meeting drew a diverse crowd of more than 250 participants from a wide geography, including many first time participants, who engaged in discussion about important issues facing the cocoa sector. The meeting also featured the inaugural Cocoa Sustainability Trade Fair, with participants showcasing their sustainability efforts through multimedia displays. Participants were also treated to a dinner courtesy of Dominican sponsor companies Cortes, Rizek Cacao and Roig followed by an impressive traditional Dominican dance and music performance provided by the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism. The meeting ended with an invitation by WCF Chairman, Nicko Debenham of Armajaro Trading Ltd., to Denpasar, Indonesia, the host of the next Partnership Meeting, and an announcement of the Fall 2014 Meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark.

There was a heavy focus on Latin America during the meeting, with a special emphasis on the Dominican Republic’s role in the global cocoa sector. The meeting opened with a welcome from the Dominican Republic’s Minister of Agriculture, Luis Ramón Rodríguez, who outlined the country’s dedication to cocoa and important role as global exporter of organic and fine flavor cocoa. Many of the themes brought up by Minister Rodríguez, including the significance of public-private partnerships, the importance of good agricultural practices, and the need to empower smallholder farmers to improve their livelihoods, were echoed in the sessions during the two-days. Breakout sessions featured a variety of topics including the role of youth and women in cocoa community development, a look into cocoa science including genetic resources and breeding, and technological innovations in the cocoa sector. Sustainability was an underlying theme in each of the sessions.

On Thursday following the close of the Partnership Meeting, approximately 50 participants toured the Rizek Cacao farm in San Francisco de Macoris, about two hours northwest of Santo Domingo. The tour group observed how the farm harvests and opens pods and learned about different methods used to ferment and dry the cocoa beans. In addition to answering many questions about post-harvest processing techniques, Rizek Cacao staff gave a detailed presentation on the cocoa flavor characteristics from different regions of the Dominican Republic and offered a cocoa liquor tasting to demonstrate the different flavors. The cocoa tour gave participants the opportunity to experience many of the topics discussed during the two-day meeting.

The Partnership Meeting was sponsored by the following WCF member companies: Barry Callebaut; Cargill; Mondelēz; ADM; The Hershey Company; Armajaro; Ferrero; Rizek Cacao; Roig Agro-Cacao; and Transmar Group. It was also supported by Dominican Republic Export & Investment Center, Cortes, Grupo Conacado, Manufacturing Confectioner’s Magazine, the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism, and Olam.

PHOTOS and PRESENTATIONS from the meeting are available online.



One of the major challenges that cocoa farmers in West Africa face is a low level of literacy, and therefore a lack of access to information. The functional literacy courses run by WCF’s ECHOES program in cocoa-growing communities in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire provide an increased sense of the relevancy of education to adults. Through participatory approaches, ECHOES gives community members educational skills that are easily applicable to their everyday lives. In addition, courses promote personal skills to create confidence, thinking skills to encourage innovation, and people skills to foster collaboration.

One beneficiary of the ECHOES program, Ms. Issua Kodow, shared with WCF how ECHOES has improved her life. Ms. Kudow is about 50 years old and, until recently, was an illiterate housewife in an Ivorian cocoa-growing community. When she heard that the WCF ECHOES functional literacy classes were starting in her community, she decided to attend so that she could learn to read, write, count, and speak correct French. She wanted to be like her friends who were educated and “leave the darkness, so she could see clearly.”

After six months of participating in the classes, Ms. Kodow seems to have gained what she desired. She reported that during one of her trips to her hometown of Ipoté this past March, she took her usual path that passes by the post office. This time when she passed by the building, she was able to look at the sign in front and read the words, “Post Office.”

She is finally able to read, write and speak French. In her own words: “Yesterday, I was blind. But now I see.”

The WCF ECHOES program works to make literacy a relevant, attainable goal across all age groups in cocoa-growing communities. By providing early grade reading courses for youth and young adults, functional literacy courses with adults, and trainings for teachers and administrators, the importance of education is stressed from an early age and into adulthood. Cocoa farmers who are literate are empowered and exposed to expanded opportunities, greatly increasing their livelihoods and well-being. Communities with empowered cocoa-farmers are more sustainable and successful overall, able to keep providing educational opportunities long after the program has finished.

1The names used in this story have been changed for confidentiality reasons.



The European Cocoa Association, the sister organization to WCF, held on September 12 – 13, 2013 its cocoa conference ‘Concoction’ in Istanbul. The city’s unique geographical location, partly on the Asian and the European continent, inspired the central theme of the conference: Bridging Tomorrow’s Cocoa and Chocolate Markets.

The Turkish market for confectionery and chocolate products itself has boasted significant growth over recent years. With growing interest from foreign brands, Turkish confectionery exports grew rapidly in the past five years, towards the EU, North Africa, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the U.S., Turkic republics, the Middle East and the Far East. The business panel that focused on harnessing market opportunities in the Middle East learned that there are distinct differences in markets and consumption patterns in Islamic countries and the Middle East. Interesting to hear was the example of the markets in the gulf states where chocolate that is produced with anti-allergic camel milk is sold at absolute premium prices per piece.

One of the elements that came out of the panel discussion that focused on supply, demand and pricing in the Asian region was that cocoa production in the region depends increasingly on decisions of farmers that look at growing cocoa purely from a business perspective. This means that the production of cocoa is strongly competing with other crops.

Some interesting aspects were discussed during a panel on the views and perspectives from civil society on sustainability in the cocoa supply-chain. Compared with five years ago, NGO’s and industry are increasingly finding each other in defining sustainability, in discussion approaches and solutions. 

PHOTO: Moderator Pamela Thornton of Armajaro Holdings moderates the Supply and Demand Panel at ECA with speakers Euan Mann, Complete Commodity Solutions, Amit Suri, OLAM International and Frank Day, The Hershey Company.



One of the most important challenges in cocoa production in West Africa is applying pesticides and fungicides to cocoa trees at the right time and in a safe and environmentally sound manner. The WCF African Cocoa Initiative (ACI), a five-year public private partnership program jointly funded by industry, USAID, IDH (a Dutch development organization), and implemented by WFC in Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon, and Nigeria, has developed a new, innovative model to deliver these chemicals. The model is called the spray service provide (SSP) model. The idea is simple: get young people trained to spray cocoa farms on fee-for-service basis in a professional and safe manner and have them offer this service to cocoa growing communities. With the right training, the right equipment, and a clientele (like Ivorian farmer cooperatives) capable of buying their services in bulk, cocoa farming can become much more productive while stimulating secondary job growth and employment for youth.

On August 14, 2013, the SSP service delivery method was launched in Abidjan, Ivory Coast during a ceremony presided over by Mme. Touré-Liste, the Director General of the Coffee and Cocoa Council of the Ivory Coast. The launch included more than 100 participants representing various key stakeholders in the cocoa sector: the Ministry of Agriculture (Crop Protection Directorate, ICCO SPS Project), the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Industry, the extension service (Deputy Director General of ANADER, the Cocoa-Coffee officer), the national agriculture research service (CNRA), about 20 producers organizations/cooperatives, cocoa-coffee beans buyers/exporters, including Nestlé, Solidaridad, ADM, Cargill, and TechnoServe, among others. ACI champions private sector solutions to challenges to sustainability in the cocoa sector, by building innovative solutions and capacities in African institutions. The spray service provider model promises to be one those.



Indonesia’s rural areas of Luwu, South Sulawesi, and Polewali Mandar, West Sulawesi, hold approximately 80,000 cocoa farmers, many of whom own or have access to mobile phones. USAID funded programs e-MITRA and AMARTA II published a study on mobile phone usage by cocoa farmers in Indonesia with findings on financial behaviors in the region. There is a strong potential for mobile money usage in the region, the study found.

The study, entitled, “Market Insights into the Financial Behaviors and Design of Mobile Financial Services and Products for Cocoa Farmers in Indonesia,” surveyed 549 cocoa farmers with a questionnaire to form its data. Of the surveyed, 75% of cocoa farmers expressed belief that mobile money could help them save time and offer a convenient way to conduct transactions.

Cocoa farmers, similar to other smallholder farmers, use almost only cash to make transactions. However, according to the study, 67% of the farmers surveyed own mobile phones and are willing to use mobile financial services for transactions. Of the farmers who own phones, 92% of them can send and receive text messages, making the possibility of mobile money usage more feasible in the region. And for those who do not own phones, 79% have a family member who owns one.

The Cocoa Innovations Project (CIP) is funded by WCF members (Armajaro, The Hershey Company, Mars, Incorporated, Mondelēz International, Continaf and Olam International) with matching funds from ACDI/VOCA and builds on a recent USAID program to improve the cocoa value chain and expand access to agricultural credit. The project built on this study in developing its mobile phone-based banking activity.

To read the full study on mobile money potential in Indonesia, please click HERE.



The Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellowship Program (Borlaug Fellowship Program) Global Cocoa Initiative is a program administered by the United States Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service in cooperation with the World Cocoa Foundation, to support training and research in international agriculture, pertaining to cocoa. One of 2013’s fellows included Ricardo Salazar of the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica (ITC), who recently completed a three month fellowship in Puerto Rico.

Salazar’s host institution during his fellowship was the United States Department of Agriculture – Tropical Agricultural Research Service station in Mauyaguez, Puerto Rico (USDA/ARS). In this institution, he worked in the entomology laboratory under the direction of a USDA/ARS mentor, to study cacao pollinators.

Only a very low percentage of cacao flowers produce fruits. This phenomenon is strongly affected by the population dynamics of the insect pollinators and is directly affected by the agronomic practices applied in the cacao plantations. Little information is available on the relationships established between cacao pollinators and their affect on cacao production. During his fellowship, Salazar focused on increasing knowledge in this area. Salazar evaluated sampling techniques to collect pollinators, identified taxonomy of insects associated with cocoa, and studied the ecology affecting the activity and effectiveness of pollinators. With his new knowledge, Salazar plans to implement new ideas when he returns to Costa Rica.

One highlight of the fellowship included Salazar’s attendance of the World Food Prize Symposium in Des Moines, Iowa, along with another WCF-USDA Borlaug fellow, Ishmael Amoako-Attah from Ghana. Attending the World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue provided both fellows an opportunity to participate in various sessions on topics ranging from biotechnology and sustainability to climate volatility.

Salazar returned to ITC at the end of October and plans to present his research to Costa Rica’s Cacao National Program.

CocoaMap CORNER: 


WCF’s Cocoa Measurement and Progress Initiative – CocoaMAP – continues to make progress toward developing a shared sustainability information hub for the cocoa industry that offers credibility and compatibility with leading efforts of industry, civil society partners, and governments.

CocoaMAP was conceived in 2012 as a subscription-based website to report and track information on the global effort to achieve sustainability in cocoa production. This web-based toolkit will allow members across the cocoa value chain to collect comparable information, share best practices, and track their progress on sustainability performance indicators.

For WCF members, CocoaMAP provides standardized comparisons of their data viewed in the context of data from the larger industry. In this way, we can offer an unbiased reference on the industry’s efforts to collectively ‘move the needle’ toward sustainability, while providing members an online tool and credible data to serve strategic needs.

With increased participation of WCF members now driving the effort, CocoaMAP will soon provide an unparalleled perspective on the health of the cocoa sector at both the national and farm levels. This perspective will be guided by a set of commonly agreed upon indicators – the CocoaMAP KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators – relating to common concerns for People (social progress), Planet (environment and biodiversity protection), and Profit (productivity and economy).

In recent months, great progress has been made:

  • The CocoaMAP Priority KPIs are a carefully-selected set of indicators on the three realms of people, planet, and profit. The priority indicators were selected based on recommendations for implementation by supply chain initiatives and member companies. These include 11 KPI’s based on global and national level government data, plus 12 KPI’s based on data collected at the farm level.
  • The CocoaMAP Farm Inventory Toolkit has been developed and tested to consistently collect priority data at the farm level. This tool includes a Farm Transect and a Mini-Survey of farmers, and is designed for compatibility and integration into existing surveys and data collection.
  • Field Testing the CocoaMAP Farm Inventory Toolkit has begun with a successful piloting and testing of the biodiversity-relevant indicators in Ghana, supported by an IFC-BACP grant. (See this link to the BACP Newsletter article Managing High Conservation Values, which describes our field tests of Biodiversity Indicators)

At the Spring 2014 Partnership Meeting, WCF will release the first CocoaMAP Annual Report, including the latest information on the cocoa sector in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.


  • CocoaMAP Priority KPIs for cocoa sustainability.
  • CocoaMAP toolkits including the Farm Inventory Toolkit, with training and support materials.
  • Assessment of progress in data collection and member participation.
  • Introducing CocoaMAP’s Online Dashboard with interactive map and data views for all subscribers.

For additional information about CocoaMAP, please contact:

Steve Farone at



WCF announces new members from the Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Morocco and the United Kingdom. The diverse companies span four continents and join cocoa and chocolate manufacturers, processors, supply chain managers, and other companies worldwide that are committed to a sustainable cocoa economy.

With the additions, WCF’s membership includes for the first time a major retailer, United Kingdom-based Marks & Spencer, and a global leader in the fertilizer industry, Morocco-based OCP. They are joined by one of the world’s largest farmer cooperatives, a cocoa machinery manufacturer, and cocoa processing and confectionary company.

The new WCF members are:

WCF President Bill Guyton said, “The work of WCF is made possible by the active support, expertise, and contributions of our members. We look forward to working with these outstanding companies, and with all of our members, in support of cocoa farmers, their families, and their communities.”

Welcome, new members!



WCF’s website now features a brand new interactive map that allows visitors to see the precise locations of the communities in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana where WCF has active programs. Visit the map HERE. The map will continue to expand, so be sure to check the web page regularly for updates.


WCF and USDA are now accepting applications from candidates in six Latin American and Caribbean countries for 2013 Cocoa Borlaug Fellowships. The deadline to submit is January 15, 2013. Learn more HERE.


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:





MAY 2014

14: WCF Board Meeting, Denpasar, Indonesia

15-16: 6th Indonesian International Cocoa Conference & Dinner (in conjunction with WCF’s 25th Partnership Meeting), Denpasar, Indonesia


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


Ethan Budiansky, Deputy Director, WCF Cocoa Livelihoods Program

  • October 22-November 2: Accra, Ghana
  • Week of December 2: Accra, Ghana

Bill Guyton, President

  • November 11-14: London, UK
  • November 15: Hershey, PA
  • Week of December 2: Accra, Ghana

Tim McCoy, Senior Advisor, Outreach

  • November 15: Hershey, PA
  • Week of December 2: Accra, Ghana; Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire; Paris, France

Paul Macek, Senior Program Director, West Africa

  • November 15: Hershey, PA
  • Week of December 2: Accra, Ghana
  • Week of December 9: Abidjan, Côte d’ Ivoire

Laura Ostenso, Special Programs & Evaluation Manager

  • November 13-23: Abidjan, Côte d’ Ivoire

Katie Denman, Office and Special Events Coordinator

  • November 15: Hershey, PA

Holly Houston, Director of Operations and Finance

  • Week of December 2: Accra, Ghana

Steve Farone, Business Manager, Cocoa Measurement and Progress Initiative

  • Week of December 9: Abidjan, Côte d’ Ivoire


We extend our best wishes to departing WCF staff members Mbalo Ndiaye (WCF/CLP Director – Accra) and Scott Rodriguez (WCF Grants and Finance Manager – D.C.) as they take the next steps in their career paths. WCF also welcomes new staff member Steve Farone (WCF/CocoaMAP – D.C.), new Leland Congressional Hunger Fellow Elizabeth Kiewisch (WCF – Abidjan) focusing on gender and community development, and Consultant Manuel Kiewisch (WCF – Abidjan) focusing on monitoring and evaluation and geographical information systems (GIS).