In September and October, WCF welcomed newly elected companies to our Board of Directors, forged new levels of collaboration with key partners, and coordinated an industry-led rapid response to a health crisis in West Africa.
During our Membership Assembly meeting in Copenhagen on October 14, we congratulated four company representatives who will each soon begin three-year terms as members of the WCF Board of Directors. They were elected as the result of a closely contested election that was open to all WCF member companies. The newly elected Board members are:
- Mary Johnson/Transmar Group
- Gary Guittard/Guittard Chocolates
- Aldo Cristiano/Ferrero
- Nana Amo Adade Boamah/Ghana Cocoa Merchants
During the Membership Assembly, we also took the opportunity to thank Francisco Gomez of CasaLuker and Juan Fernando Valenzuela Arango of Compania Nacional de Chocolates for their service on the Board that is now coming to an end. Both gentlemen are strong supporters of Latin American cocoa development.
The 27th Partnership Meeting & Cocoa Sustainability Trade Fair, held in Copenhagen on October 15-16, provided an opportunity for the industry to share its vision for a common set of KPIs (key performance indicators), which will underpin all CocoaAction activities in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. I was especially impressed by the rich discussions and active participation of more than 220 stakeholders from civil society, the private sector and government. They have provided us with numerous suggestions on how to strengthen the strategy. Read more here.
In closing, I know that all of us have been saddened and deeply concerned by the outbreak of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. To respond to this crisis and to help ensure that the disease spreads no farther, WCF worked with our company members to raise approximately $800,000, which has been rapidly distributed to two reputable organizations, Caritas International and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The donation has already begun to help provide direct prevention and relief efforts to thousands of people across West Africa.
As we approach the end of 2014, allow me this opportunity to wish each of you a very happy holiday season and every best wish for 2015.
SUSTAINABILITY, STANDARDS AND CERTIFICATION
ON CENTER STAGE AT WCF’S PARTNERSHIP MEETING
WCF held its 26th Partnership Meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark on October 15 – 16, 2014. The two-day meeting brought together more than 220 experts from 23 countries to listen, share, and advance cocoa sustainability. Speakers and participants defined and challenged concepts of certification and standards, and articulated a path forward for implementation of a game-changing strategy called CocoaAction.
Participants discussed the ideas, approaches, and mechanisms that are aimed to “certify prosperity,” and speakers urged standards bodies and certifiers to put cocoa producer needs at the center of their work. The audience questioned how to measure the results of sustainability efforts, and cautioned that measuring impacts must be complemented by measuring continuous progress.
The meeting, held for the first time in Denmark, challenged participants to consider the “tough” issues in cocoa sustainability and keep cocoa farmers at the center of the conversation. Participants also had the opportunity to learn about company, government, and civil sustainability projects through the concurrent Cocoa Sustainability Trade Fair. They engaged, questioned, and shared insights into how to improve sustainability approaching, including through CocoaAction.
The meeting participants provided expert insight into CocoaAction’s core components, including community development, productivity and measurement. It was agreed that ongoing stakeholder engagement will be key to CocoaAction’s success, and that the strategy should be implemented as soon as possible and show execution beyond strategy.
In follow up to the meeting, WCF released a report detailing meeting proceedings and the recommended follow up from participants. Also available are the presentations from the event and photo highlights.
Join WCF for its next Partnership Meeting: June 30 – July 1, 2014, Washington, D.C.
WCF AFRICAN COCOA INITIATIVE PAYS COURTESY CALL
TO NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF
COCOA RESEARCH INSTITUTE OF GHANA (CRIG)
Access to improved planting material plays a big part in increasing productivity. WCF-ACI in collaboration with IITA supported the four national agricultural institutes (NARs) with focus on cocoa research in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria to certify that their best planting materials are true-to-type through genetic fingerprinting of cocoa seed garden materials and breeders’ stock.
WCF-ACI Project Management Unit paid a courtesy call to Dr. Gilbert Anim-Kwapong, the new Executive Director of the CRIG on October 2, 2014 to first congratulate him on his appointment and secondly to update him on WCF-ACI on-going activities with CRIG. WCF-ACI supported the fingerprinting of 2,000 leaf samples from the seed gardens and breeders’ stock and CRIG breeders are using the results of the fingerprinting work to correct mislabeling in existing seed gardens and germplasm collections. This is the first time such a study has been conducted in the West African region on cocoa and the results of the fingerprinting work could also provide an input for future research work by scientists.
Using the true-to-type varieties with desired phenotypic traits identified during the fingerprinting work, WCF-ACI is supporting CRIG and the Seed Production Unit of Ghana Cocobod to increase seed garden capacity in Ghana through the addition of 50 ha of new seed gardens to the existing 154 ha seed gardens. In addition, 10 ha of budwood gardens have been created using the certified planting materials from the fingerprinting to support cocoa rehabilitation (canopy replacement) as a new technology for cocoa production. By 2020 the 50 ha of seed gardens contributed by WCF-ACI will have an estimated annual replanting capacity of 40,000 ha.
Dr. Amin-Kwapong was also briefed on the field trials by the African Cocoa Breeders Working Group (ACBWG) with funding from Mars Incorporated which started in October 2013. The field trials seek to stimulate the adoption of improved cocoa varieties and good agricultural practices to increased productivity in the predominantly smallholder cocoa farming systems. Preliminary findings of these trials in Ghana indicate that for reasons yet to be identified, planting material (hybrid seedlings) that ends up in farmers’ fields performs differently from the same planting material sourced from research stations. As this work progresses, it will become clearer which pollination and/or farm establishment techniques are optimal for producing appropriate planting materials for farmers.
The Executive Director was briefed on the flavor laboratory installed at CRIG in December 2013 under the Ghana Quality Innovations (GQI) for Specialty Cocoa Project by TCHO and WCF-ACI. Through this project farmers are trained on how to vary post-harvest techniques for fermentation and drying to improve the organoleptic or sensory properties such as taste and flavor of traded cocoa beans. With the installation of the laboratory, CRIG now collect cocoa bean samples from the trained farmers regularly to process into cocoa liqueur and chocolate. Through this work, CRIG can now verify new varities developed to ensure that flavor traits for the Ghana origin are not lost during breeding.
WOMEN’S GROUPS FOR THE PROMOTION OF EDUCATION
Ethnic divisions can run deep in Côte d’Ivoire, which have been sources of conflict in the past. Commonly, in a single cocoa-growing community there may be several ethnic groups. However, in many of the WCF Nestlé Schools Project communities, women have chosen to put aside their historical differences and work together to promote their children’s education.
When the community of Koffikro, Côte d’Ivoire was notified that a school would be built there through the WCF Nestlé Schools Project, forty local women from three major ethnic groups came together to form a Women’s Group to support the effort. The president of the group, Rachelle N’Guessan, said of gathering the women together, “it was easy because all of our children attended the same school, which was in a pitiful state”.
After some deliberation the group decided to start a vegetable garden with okra and pepper, both of which preserve well and could be saved to sell when demand is strong. They also set up a rotating schedule to spread out the workload, with smaller groups of fifteen women working on a weekly basis to tend to the garden. Encouraged by the group’s planning and dedication, the village leaders donated a ½ acre plot of land for the garden.
Now, the women use the proceeds they make from selling the vegetables at a local market the women buy school supplies for their children, support members in need, conduct community activities, and purchase fertilizer and seeds to continue the growth of the garden. Recently, several women living in rural camps outside of the community have also requested to join the Women’s Group, since their children started attending the school. Commenting on their new members, Mrs. N’Guessan said that she “hope[s] that this level of commitment to our children’s education will continue to be emulated throughout Koffikro and beyond”.
FOR WEST AFRICA’S COCOA FARMERS
With more than 2 million smallholder farmers depending on cocoa production for their livelihoods, cocoa is a mainstay of West Africa’s rural economy. Farmers in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, the two countries producing the lion’s share of the global cocoa supply, rely on income from their cocoa farms to feed their families, send their children to school, and support their communities. These farmers, however, are facing the growing challenge of climate change, which threatens both cocoa productivity and livelihoods. Changing weather patterns will impact cocoa production in numerous ways: increased rainfall will in some cases encourage the spread of pests and diseases attacking cocoa pods, while in other cases, drought will render farms unable to support cocoa growth, reducing the available farmland. In light of these challenges, it is more important than ever that farmers be well-equipped to manage thriving, productive and resilient farming enterprises.
WCF is investigating the possibility of supporting farmers with climate-smart tools, curricula and training to adapt to climate change. By encouraging farmers to adopt good agricultural practices to fight pests and diseases, farmers will be able to adapt their agricultural practices to a changing environment. By providing them with resources for the use of improved planting material and agricultural inputs, farmers will be able to continue to increase cocoa productivity despite adverse weather conditions. WCF and its partners will be able to continue to learn about the best ways to equip cocoa farmers with climate-smart production methods by integrating climate change considerations in farm-based tools.
WCF’S FARM INFORMATION TOOLKIT
TESTED BY COMPANY M&E EXPERTS
For years, companies have collected information on cocoa farm management by surveying farmers with questionnaires. While questionnaires may provide good information about farm households and communities, they seldom provide reliable information on the quality of management of the farm. In addition, the methods and types of information collected varied greatly across companies, making it difficult to identify results across farms.
With this in mind, WCF’s Board of Directors mandated that we “help the member companies ensure they have credible, consistent data collection methods on farm practices and sustainability – methods that can be implemented in each company program so that, over time, we can measure our impact”.
Since that mandate, WCF has been hard at work developing the Farm Information Toolkit (FIT) – a modular, open-source toolkit for use by WCF member companies to consistently measure and monitor farm practices, productivity, and sustainability.
The toolkit includes documentation, visual aids, observation logs, and instructions for assembling your own inexpensive measurement equipment. WCF will begin offering documentation downloadable through its website, as well as hands-on training with the toolkit for CocoaAction member companies in 2015.
A milestone in developing the toolkit was reached this past October when WCF invited cocoa monitoring and evaluation experts from member companies including ADM, Barry Callebaut, Cargill, Ecom, Mars, Mondelēz, Nestlé, and Olam to join us on a cocoa farm in Ghana and test the toolkit themselves.
The testing provided a valuable opportunity for members to provide constructive feedback and recommendations for improving the toolkit, including the potential for using FIT to improve their farm sustainability measures. In addition, the testing allowed WCF to prepare the toolkit for company use to support measurements under the CocoaAction strategy. In the words of our members:
“This is a good toolkit that [would be] simple to apply in our current portfolio.” – Field Research Manager
“This is indeed a very good start on our journey to systematize the data collection that will help analyze GAP adoption and farm productivity in the cocoa sector.” – Company M&E Manager
We thank our members for supporting this important work. More updates will be coming soon to our website at worldcocoafoundation.com.
WCF RESEARCH FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM
OPEN FOR APPLICATIONS
The Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellowship Program/Global Cocoa Initiative promotes food security and economic growth by providing training and collaborative research opportunities to fellows from select cocoa-producing countries. This is a joint effort by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), and the World Cocoa Foundation. Applications are currently being accepted through November 30 (see below for details).
Since 2007, 34 cocoa scientists have received training on research methodologies or techniques addressing pests, disease and soil fertility that can be applied to ongoing research in their home countries. The fellowships, which last approximately three months, provide scientists with the skills and knowledge to help their countries become more competitive in producing and exporting cocoa and cocoa products. Fellows will work with a mentor at a U.S. university, research center or government agency. The U.S. mentor will later visit the fellow’s home institution to continue collaboration.
Fellows will be chosen from Asia (India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and/or Vietnam), the Americas (Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, the Dominican Republic and/or Trinidad & Tobago), and Africa (Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria).
To apply for the Cocoa Borlaug Fellowship Program, visit:
The deadline for applications is November 30, 2014.
ESTABLISHMENT OF AMERICAS
CACAO BREEDERS WORKING GROUP
On October 29-31, the Americas Cacao Breeders Working Group, the first of its kind in the Americas, was formally established during an Americas Cacao Breeders meeting held at the Tropical Agricultural Research & Higher Education Center (CATIE) in Turrialba, Costa Rica. The Working Group convened cacao breeders, scientists in related disciplines, and industry members to collaborate on cocoa breeding and management of germplasm resources. Approximately 45 people representing 15 countries attended the meeting.
The Americas produce approximately 13% of the world’s cacao, however, average productivity remains low (approximately 300-500 kg/ha) due to the effects of devastating diseases and limited incorporation of good agricultural practices. The group exchanged information on progress obtained by cacao breeders, discussed cacao germplasm exchange, and facilitated dialogue between cacao breeders and the private sector.
“The genetic richness of this tropical American species could radically change the prognoses, serving as the basis for creating varieties that diminish the risks as has it has been demonstrating in Central America, where the species was domesticated a long time ago,” said Wilbert Phillips, Curator of the International Cacao Genebank at CATIE.
This year CATIE is also celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of International Cacao Collection in Turrialba, Costa Rica in 1944. This anniversary will celebrate the collection’s value to the world including conservation, providing plant material for genetic enhancement studies as well as providing propagation material for the breeding programs and the establishment of commercial plantations in different countries. This cocoa germplasm collection, which contains nearly 1,200 clones of cacao, is a significant representation of the broad genetic diversity that the species possesses in tropical America. It also includes clones obtained in Africa, Asia and Oceania.
In addition to the CATIE event, Bioversity International, on behalf of the Global Cacao Genetic Resources Network (CacaoNet) jointly with the Cocoa Research Centre (CRC) of the University of the West Indies, organized an international consultation on the implementation of the Global Strategy for the Conservation and Use of Cacao Genetic Resources on the ex situ conservation and development of the Global Strategic Cacao Collection (GSCC) in Trinidad 22-24 October 2014.
These cacao genetic resources consultations provided a unique opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of conserving the genetic diversity in collections (ex situ) and in farmers’ fields to ensure their use in breeding programmes leading to improved varieties providing better options for farmers. CacaoNet coordinated by Bioversity International together with WCF, CATIE, USDA and CRC planned for these events to coincide in order to build on each consultation and ensure that recommendations on the use of cacao diversity is done in an integrated manner. The CacaoNet workshops led to clear priorities and agreements on collaborative actions towards securing the threatened cacao diversity as well as ensuring and facilitating their access into improvement programmes around the world.
The newly established Americas Cacao Breeders Group will bring together cacao breeders, scientists and industry members to collaborate and coordinate on the breeding and management of cacao genetic resources in the Americas. Similar groups have already been established in the regions of West Africa, Asia and the Pacific and are under the umbrella of the INGENIC network.
For additional WCF research resources, visit:
WCF IN THE NEWS
GLOBAL COCOA SECTOR JOINS FIGHT AGAINST EBOLA
During the opening of the 26th Partnership Meeting & Cocoa Sustainability Trade Fair in Copenhagen, WCF announced a cocoa and chocolate industry wide donation to fight Ebola in West Africa. The donations were solicited from WCF member companies. One hundred percent of the funds raised are being donated to support Ebola care and prevention efforts being carried out in West Africa by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and Caritas. The effort has garnered more than $800,000 to date.
“The spread of Ebola is a serious concern to WCF and our member companies, given our deep and longstanding support for the well-being of West African cocoa-growing communities. This member-led contribution reflects an ongoing strong commitment by our industry to health and humanitarian relief efforts during international crises,” said Bill Guyton, president, World Cocoa Foundation. “We recognize that many rural communities in West Africa, including those where cocoa is grown, need support to find sustainable solutions to economic and social problems that may hinder their ability to tackle threats such as Ebola.”
Seventy percent of the world’s cocoa supply originates in West Africa, though the region’s largest producers of the commodity, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, have thus far not experienced an outbreak of the Ebola virus.
The WCF effort was spearheaded by a $100,000 initial contribution by the Transmar Group. Other contributing members to date include Australian Industry Group (Whittaker’s); Blommer Chocolate Company; Carletti; Chocolove; Cococo Chocolatiers Inc.; Confiseur Laederach Group; Ghirardelli Chocolate; Guittard Chocolate; Fazer; Ferrero; Indcresa; Manufacturing Confectioner; Mars, Incorporated; Mitsubishi; Mondelēz International Foundation; Nestlé; Noble Resources; Olam; Purdy’s Chocolatier; R.M. Palmer; Sucres et Denrées; The Hershey Company; Toms Group; and World’s Finest Chocolate.
The donation will support the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent’s regional prevention and treatment programs, as well as work being done by Caritas to widely share prevention messaging, provide general health services, and deliver social and economic support to those living with or affected by Ebola.
“More than 4,000 Red Cross volunteers and 150 international staff have been on the front-lines of the Ebola crisis, educating people to prevent infections, treating those that have fallen ill, providing safe and dignified burials for those who have succumbed to the outbreak, and so much more,” said Joelle Tanguy, Under-Secretary General, Humanitarian Values and Diplomacy, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. “It will take even more to stall Ebola and time is of the essence. Thanks to the generous World Cocoa Foundation contribution, we will be able to meaningfully accelerate progress against the deadly virus.”
According to Jann Sjursen, Secretary General of Caritas Denmark, “Ebola is killing people every day in West Africa. Action is needed now to stop the spread of the disease, save lives and support people living with and affected by the Ebola Virus. The initiative of WCF to support Caritas and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is a concrete example of industrial corporate social responsibility for the benefit of those who daily battling with the devastating effects of the Ebola virus.”
For more information on Caritas’ Ebola response:
For more information on the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ Ebola response: www.ifrc.org.
UPCOMING WCF EVENTS
30-1: 27th Partnership Meeting & Cocoa Sustainability Trade Fair, Washington, D.C.
UPCOMING WCF STAFF TRAVEL
Bill Guyton, President
- November 19 – 21: Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
Tim McCoy, Senior Advisor, Outreach
- November 19 – 21: Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
Steve Farone, Manager, Performance Measurement Systems
- November 19-21: Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
WCF welcomes new staff members Nira Desai (Deputy Director, CocoaAction), and Ben Brennan (Program Assistant, Southeast Asia, Latin America & Research) to the team. Both Nira and Ben are based in the Washington, D.C. office.