inside this edition…



During my first five months on the job, I have been excited to see the growing focus of industry, governments, and environmental organizations on the challenges of deforestation and climate change in the cocoa supply chain. I have also been pleased to see the increasing coverage in the media about this important and complicated issue, including recent stories in the New York Times and Jeune Afrique.

Over the past 50 years, more than half the world’s tropical forests have been lost. A small number of agricultural commodities have been primary drivers of deforestation, notably oil palm, soy, and timber. Cocoa has also played a major role in West Africa, and there have been recent examples of large-scale logging in the Amazon for commercial cocoa development.

There is no firm data on the extent of cocoa-related deforestation, or the amount of cocoa sourced from protected or forest-classified areas.   Ghana estimates that it is losing 2% of its forests each year, with half of this loss directly related to agricultural expansion. The rate of forest loss has been much higher in Côte d’Ivoire (FAO’s Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015). Both governments are committed to tackling the problem and have launched ambitious programs.

In response, WCF is now deepening our work on deforestation. We are focusing on four issues.

First, strengthening environmental sustainability of cocoa production is top priority for industry. The first step is rigorous research and analysis to understand the extent and location of cocoa-related deforestation, and the different drivers behind the conversion of forests for cocoa. The second step is to identify lessons learned and good practices from other commodities, such as palm and coffee. However, cocoa is a very different sector, reflecting the scattered and small plot sizes, complex land tenure issues, and weak national data on forest classification in West Africa. WCF and the industry are partnering with a wide range of stakeholders to undertake the necessary analysis, research, consultations, and review of options to identify an appropriate industry strategy to address deforestation.

Second, agricultural intensification is a crucial priority. Cocoa yields in West Africa are among the lowest in the world. Increasing productivity and boosting farmer income are essential for reducing pressure for agricultural encroachment into forested lands. This is exactly what the CocoaAction strategy is doing: doubling farmers’ yields through improved planting materials, fertilizer, and improved agricultural practices. In addition, for existing degraded landscapes, there is significant scope to develop mixed agro-forestry systems, where cocoa trees are grown with shade trees. There may be important lessons to learn about agro-forestry from other cocoa-growing regions, especially Latin America. This strengthens biodiversity, improves water and soil resources, and generates diversified income for farmers.

Third, we need to think through the right roles of the public and private sectors. Governments need to lead on land use mapping and zoning, developing national strategies for international forestry and climate change commitments, and effective management and enforcement of protected areas. The private sector needs to promote environmentally sustainable cocoa production, with a focus on supporting increased productivity and sustainable land use by farmers. Joint public-private partnerships are needed to test and pilot innovative solutions (such as payments for environmental services, mixed agro-forestry approaches, and traceability systems), and to mobilize carbon/climate financing to bring solutions to scale.

Fourth, we need to build effective partnerships with development institutions and environmental organizations. We are reaching out to a wide variety of thought leaders who know the issues and solutions better than we do: World Bank, IDH, World Resources Institute, Forest Trends, Forest Trust, Climate Focus, Partnership for Forests, Prince of Wales’ International Sustainability Unit, Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, and Tropical Forest Alliance 2020, among others.

For the coming year, we have set an ambitious goal to facilitate learning and knowledge sharing among companies and across supply chains, and to help forge collective action around a shared strategy. We hope you will engage on and contribute to this critical agenda.


The Partnership Meeting that took place on October 26-27 in Abidjan provided an unprecedented chance for the global cocoa sustainability community to learn about WCF’s new strategic directions. Co-convened with Le Conseil du Café-Cacao, the meeting attracted more than 550 participants from no fewer than 24 countries, including a large number of cocoa farmers. More than 60 sustainability experts addressed a range of topics during the meeting’s 16 different sessions on sustainable livelihoods for cocoa farmers, emerging technologies for farm productivity, promoting youth engagement, and more.

First Lady of Côte d'Ivoire and Innovators at the WCF Partnership Meeting in Abidjan
First Lady of Côte d’Ivoire, Dominique Ouattara (center), poses with Innovators during the Partnership Meeting, alongside WCF President Rick Scobey, WCF Chairman, Barry Parkin (front left), and session timekeeper and Olympic sprinter, Murielle Ahoure (far right).

WCF President Rick Scobey stressed that the cocoa sector faces a unique opportunity to deepen efforts to build a sustainable supply chain where farmers’ lives are improved, the environment is better protected, and all participants prosper and grow.  He highlighted four areas where he wants WCF to deepen its impact: sustainable livelihoods of farmers; greater reach and impact of WCF’s sustainability programs; environmental sustainability, particularly deforestation linkage; and increased transparency and accountability among all actors in the supply chain.

Partnership Meeting CocoaAction session.
Stakeholders discuss how CocoaAction is impacting cocoa communities.

The meeting, organized for the first time ever in Côte d’Ivoire, bore witness to growing alignment on key issues among all actors in the supply chain. Remarks made by Ivorian Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan, First Lady Dominique Ouattara, Conseil du Café-Cacao Director-General Massandjé Touré-Litse, and Cocobod Chief Executive Stephen K. Opuni, along with others, all addressed sustainable livelihoods, deforestation, and women’s empowerment.

Participants heard how, for some areas, there is a consensus about necessary interventions to accelerate sustainability in the cocoa sector, and the core challenge is to move to scale – particularly in the areas of productivity, women’s empowerment, community development, and child protection.  In other areas, clearly more analysis and research are needed to better diagnose the problems and pilot solutions – such as addressing deforestation and climate change, and alternative income-generating activities for cocoa farmers.

Participants visit the Trade Fair and enjoy chocolate samples. World Cocoa Foundation
Participants visit the Trade Fair to learn about company sustainability initiatives and enjoy chocolate samples.

The discussions also demonstrated a growing level of trust and commitment among all the stakeholders to work together. There was repeated reference to CocoaAction providing a strong framework to strengthen public-private collaboration. Another central theme was about looking to the future and reflecting on what cocoa production and processing will look like in 2030.  The meeting ended with a strong shared commitment to deepen collaboration, including more effective dialogue between private sector and governments on key policy issues, more active engagement between WCF and civil society organizations, and expanded collaboration with international financial organizations to mobilize the resources needed to scale up sustainability.

Without doubt, the most inspirational part of the Partnership Meeting was the opportunity to listen to the cocoa farmers who participated in panels and attended the discussions, particularly a number of dynamic women farmers.  Without them, none of us would be here.

A summary report from the Abidjan meeting will be distributed before year’s end. SAVE THE DATE for WCF’s next Partnership Meeting October 24-25, 2017, at the Marriott Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C.


On October 26 WCF, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and high level representatives from four West African nations gathered in Abidjan to launch the African Cocoa Initiative Phase II (ACI II). ACI II is a five-year, $12 million cocoa sustainability program designed to increase the availability and use of high quality cocoa planting materials as well as improve cocoa farmer access to financial services in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria. The program is a joint effort to support the implementation of WCF’s CocoaAction strategy, especially in the area of planting material and access to financing for farmers, that aligns leading private sector partners on key sustainability issues in the West African cocoa sector. CocoaAction companies including WCF Members Barry Callebaut, Cargill, The Hershey Company, Mars, Incorporated, Mondelēz International and Nestlé are joined by  CropLife Africa, Guittard Chocolate Company, and Tree Global in the implementation of this innovative public private partnership.

From left: WCF President, Rick Scobey; WCF Chairman, Barry Parkin; Managing Director of Cameroon’s ONCC, Michael Ndoping; Chief Executive of Ghana’s Cocoa Board, Dr. Stephen K. Opuni; Director General of Côte d’Ivoire’s Le Conseil du Cafe-Cacao, Massandjé Touré-Litse; USAID’s Private Sector Advisor in the Office of Markets, Partnerships, & Innovations, Jay Daniliuk; and WCF’s Senior Program Director for West Africa, Paul Macek.

WCF Senior Program Director for West Africa Paul Macek said, “WCF is very pleased to see our partner, the United States Government’s Feed the Future initiative, renew its partnership with WCF on industry’s flagship strategy for cocoa sustainability in West Africa.”

According to Jay Daniliuk, Private Sector Advisor in the Office of Markets, Partnerships, & Innovations in the Bureau for Food Security at USAID, “‘win-win’ partnerships such as ACI II address core business objectives of our private sector partners and advance the impact of sustainable development by fostering private sector-led growth in emerging markets, a critical step in reducing poverty, fighting hunger, and improving nutrition.”

The launch of ACI II coincided with WCF’s annual Partnership Meeting in Abidjan.

More information on the ACI II project can be found here.


CSSVImmediately following the Abidjan Partnership Meeting, WCF convened a regional forum about the growing problem of cocoa swollen shoot virus (CSSV) in West Africa. The meeting attracted more than 30 research scientists, policymakers and industry representatives, including from ONCC (Cameroon); CCC and FIRCA (Côte d’Ivoire); CRIG (Ghana); CRIN (Nigeria); and CRAF (Togo).

WCF President Rick Scobey stressed to participants the importance of addressing CSSV from a regional perspective, noting that the disease knows no borders. He cited evidence that CSSV is rapidly spreading and poses a serious threat to cocoa sustainability. He called for a regional approach to coordinate work and research, and that the responsibility for making this happen lies with cocoa-producing countries in the region.

The forum included a review of the Grand Bassam 2013 recommendations to situate the current discussion within a historical context about the disease. The review provided participants with an overview of the disease, its history in West Africa and its evolution over time. There was also a discussion about previous meetings and regional efforts to combat the disease. An outline was suggested for priority elements of regional control and containment strategy.

The group endorsed a proposal to develop a coordinated, cross-border, and collaborative action plan, in which policy makers from the affected countries mobilize scientists to share results and put research into action with outside donors invited to provide support. This strategy would include long-term commitments from governments, industry, research institutes, and other partners such as WCF and the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO).

Participants further agreed to develop a funding proposal for submission to the African Development Bank. A sub-group was constituted to prepare and circulate for review of the proposal.


The Regional Symposium on the Next Generation of Cocoa Research was held from November 8 to 10, 2016 at the International Institute for Tropic Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, Nigeria. More than 110 scientists from across the region, cocoa trading and processing firms, chocolate manufacturers, NGOs in cocoa sustainability, and government representatives participated in the 2-day meeting.

WCF’s Sona Ebai welcoming the Ooni of Ife to the event.
WCF’s Sona Ebai (left) welcoming the Ooni of Ife (right) to the event.

The Ooni, or Chief, of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, delivered a speech for the opening ceremony of the symposium, imploring participants to look at ways to address sustainability concerns for cocoa production by ensuring fair prices for farmers and improving productivity.

The opening ceremony was followed by keynote addresses by Dr. Chiji Ojukwu of the African Development Bank, Ed Seguine of WCF member Guittard Chocolate, Professor Malachy Akoroda of CRIN and Rita Owusu-Amankwah of SED Consult.

Day 2 focused on genetic resources, breeding and genomics, pests, diseases and risk mitigation, and climate change. Main messages from the sessions included:

Climate change and resilience: 1) Climate smart technologies in agriculture should be made economically viable for the farmer. 2) A regional climate smart approach can be developed for cocoa farmers in order to mitigate the challenges posed by climate change.

Pests, diseases and risk mitigation: 1) there should be collaboration among national agricultural research stations and their scientists to avoid duplications of research. 2) Methods must be developed and implemented on the ground to control emerging pests and diseases in future.

Genetic resources, breeding and genomics: 1) clonal material for cocoa rehabilitation should be made available in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria. 2) Regional cooperation and collaboration on germplasm conservation needs to be encouraged.

Day 2 focused on markets, institutions, policies and value chain, rehabilitation and intensification, and empowering youth & women. Key points raised under these themes include:

Markets, institutions, policies and value chain: 1) the organization of non-governments actors for effective interfacing with government on policy issues is required. 2) Research findings have to be packaged in appropriate language and formats that policy makers can understand. 3) All stakeholders, especially policy makers and farmer associations, should be included in efforts to coordinate the cocoa. 4) Each country can develop an inventory of researchers, projects and other actors in the cocoa sector.

Rehabilitation and intensification: 1) the challenge of spreading CSSV through infected grafting materials while propagating this technology cannot be overlooked. 2) If varieties of short trees are promoted, it could reduce drudgery in harvesting and farm maintenance. 3) Sufficient material must be raised in seed and bud-wood gardens to meet rehabilitation needs.

Empowering youth and women: 1) the mechanization of cocoa production practices can serve as a critical driver for attracting youths into the business.


reg_symp_003Alongside the discussions there were exhibition stands where organization presented products ranging from literature through laboratory equipment for genetic analysis through cocoa solar dryers to semi-processed, finished and byproducts of cocoa.



On October 26 at WCF’s Partnership Meeting in Abidjan, WCF published the 2015 CocoaAction Annual Report demonstrating progress made to date to accelerate sustainability in the cocoa sector.

Formed in 2014, CocoaAction is a voluntary industry-wide strategy that aligns the world’s leading cocoa and chocolate companies, origin Governments, and key stakeholders on regional priority issues in cocoa sustainability. WCF members involved in CocoaAction include Barry Callebaut, Blommer, Cargill, Ferrero, The Hershey Company, Mars, Incorporated, Mondelēz International, Nestlé, and Olam. WCF acts as the convener and strategy holder for CocoaAction, facilitating implementation, driving alignment and generating new insights to amplify its impact.

The inagural CocoaAction Annual Report highlights the progress made so far, as well as lessons learned around aligning stakeholders on regional priority issues, establishing partnerships to achieve bigger impact through collaboration, finalizing a common results framework, creating a holistic view of community development and sustainable planting materials, and above all strengthening the sustainability strategy to ensure a sustainable future for cocoa farmers and communities.

CocoaAction Annual Report Cover.
The 2015 CocoaAction Annual Report is available in English and French.

The report also shares details of activities launched and achieved in 2015 to establish CocoaAction’s roots, including:

  • the signing of agreements with cocoa producing countries;
  • a soil mapping exercise to better understand the soil conditions in cocoa-producing areas;
  • a landscape analysis to better understand best practices and recommendations on community development;
  • participation in Public-Private Partnerships that bring together governments, industry, donors, and civil society;
  • a study to look at the use and interest of cocoa farmers in mobile money;
  • workshops to finalize the key performance indicators that will be used to measure performance in CocoaAction;
  • the creation of a Famer Economic Model to better understand the variables that lead to financial gains for farmers;
  • and participation in the drafting of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) and the International Standards Organization (ISO) voluntary Draft ISO Standard for Sustainable and Traceable Cocoa.

For more information on the progress achieved and to see how CocoaAction will increase its impact and grow in the future, view the CocoaAction Annual Report and other resources on the WCF website.

For additional WCF research resources, visit:





22 – 24:  Winter Fancy Food & Confection Show, Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA United States

Jan 29 – Feb 1: ISM International Sweets and Biscuits Fair, Cologne Exhibition Center, Köln, Germany Map

Jan 29 – Feb 1: ProSweets Cologne, Cologne Exhibition Center, Köln, Germany


25 – 26: Chocoa Festival, Beurs van Berlage, Amsterdam, Netherlands

See more cocoa industry events here.


WCF is thrilled to welcome Germany-based chocolate maker, Alfred Ritter GmbH & Co., as its newest member.

WCF extends its thanks to Sona Ebai (ACI Chief of Party), Takyi Sraha (Technical Advisor), Rachelle Walker (Finance and Accounting Manager), Sara Miller (Latin America & Southeast Asia Intern), and Amy Mitsumori (Communications & Outreach Intern) for their service to the organization, and wishes them the best on future endeavors.