ABIDJAN, Côte d'Ivoire, May 20, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Senior executives from 12 of the world's largest chocolate and cocoa companies are signing a joint agreement with the Government of Côte d'Ivoire as part of an unprecedented strategy to accelerate actions to make cocoa farming in the country sustainable. The plan, announced here today and known as CocoaAction, calls for building a rejuvenated and economically viable cocoa sector through increased cooperation between industry members and the Ivorian government. Emphasis will be placed on providing cocoa farmers with a combination of productivity enhancements and community development interventions. These efforts are expected to reach no fewer than 200,000 Ivorian farmers and the communities where they live by 2020. The strategy will be coordinated by the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF).
"This agreement represents one of the most significant steps the sector is taking to make cocoa sustainable," says Barry Parkin, WCF's newly-appointed chairman and chief sustainability officer at Mars, Incorporated. "This alignment of objectives, commitment of resources, and sharing of best practices is the type of transformative initiative that will really help farmers become more productive and secure the future of cocoa. While it represents a new way for the industry to work with origin countries, it also builds on the strong existing relationships with them. We are honored and proud to move these relationships to a significant next step."
Representing the Ivorian government, Minister of Agriculture Sangafowa Coulibaly praised the strategy, saying, "Côte d'Ivoire is very pleased that the private sector has decided to coordinate its cocoa sustainability efforts to support those of the Ivorian government."
CocoaAction was carefully and voluntarily developed by the companies in close cooperation with the governments of Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana, the world's top cocoa-producing countries. In addition to Côte d'Ivoire, the strategy will benefit at least 100,000 farmers in neighboring Ghana. The two countries provide about 55 percent of the world's current cocoa supply. CocoaAction will later be extended to other cocoa-producing countries and is open to participation by additional WCF member companies as well as development organizations that support sustainability in the cocoa sector.
WCF President Bill Guyton says, "CocoaAction focuses on providing farmers with the necessary 'full package' of training and inputs needed to operate successful farms, while advancing the communities in which they live. It brings together the best elements of individual company programs, which can now be shared and scaled up."
According to Massandjé Touré-Litse, director general of Le Conseil du Café-Cacao (Coffee and Cocoa Council), "CocoaAction, as well as the resources that will be made available for its implementation, will help implement the 2QC Program, including through CocoaAction's already well developed thematic work streams." The council is the government body in Côte d'Ivoire responsible for managing the country's coffee and cocoa sectors.
Through CocoaAction, the companies will work closely with the Ivorian government and other national institutions to provide improved planting materials, fertilizer and training to cocoa farmers, while promoting community development through education, child labor monitoring and remediation, and activities to advance women's empowerment. A series of indicators, currently being developed by WCF, will accompany the strategy and will allow companies and governments to measure and manage CocoaAction progress.
Companies that have thus far voluntarily committed to CocoaAction include ADM; Armajaro; Barry Callebaut; Blommer Chocolate Company; Cargill; Ecom; Ferrero; The Hershey Company; Mars, Incorporated; Mondelēz International, Nestlé, and Olam International Ltd.
A FAQ document about CocoaAction is available at www.worldcocoa.org.
The World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) is an international membership foundation that promotes a sustainable cocoa economy by providing cocoa farmers with the tools they need to grow more and better cocoa, market it successfully and make greater profits. WCF's membership includes cocoa and chocolate manufacturers, processors, supply chain managers, and other companies worldwide, representing more than 80% of the global cocoa market. For more information, visit www.worldcocoa.org.
SOURCE World Cocoa Foundation