ACCRA, Ghana, March 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), the U.S. government's Feed the Future Initiative, and the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) officially launched the WCF African Cocoa Initiative (WCF/ACI) today in a ceremony co-hosted with the Ghana Cocoa Board and key African stakeholders, including regional government officials and NGO partners. This Global Development Alliance partnership, supported by Feed the Future through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), will improve cocoa farmer incomes, alleviate poverty, strengthen government and regional institutions, and advance food security in the cocoa-producing countries of Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria. Over the five-year term, the program will train 100,000 cocoa farmers and support their improved well-being and livelihoods.
More than 2 million smallholder cocoa farmers depend on cocoa for their livelihoods in West and Central Africa. One of the most critical issues in the cocoa industry is overcoming the productivity gap between the world's supply and demand. WCF/ACI will develop the cocoa sector in four critical areas to address this issue, by fostering public-private cooperative investments in cocoa and agriculture, improving the genetic quality and productivity of the cocoa varieties under cultivation, expanding farmer education and training programs, and improving the agriculture input supply chains that serve the farmers.
The WCF African Cocoa Initiative is a partnership that leverages the resources and talent from public and private sector members as well as key international organizations. Public sector support includes USAID and the four national governments of Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria. Private sector funding for this program comes from WCF member companies ADM Cocoa, Barry Callebaut, Blommer Chocolate Company, Cargill, Continaf BV, Ferrero, Guittard Chocolate Company, The Hershey Company, Kraft Foods, Lindt & Sprungli, Mars, Nestle, Noble Resources SA, and Olam International Ltd. International organizations include the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the Alliance of Cocoa Producing Countries (COPAL) and the IFDC.
Bill Guyton, president of The World Cocoa Foundation said, "The WCF African Cocoa Initiative is a solid example of governments, industry, and development organizations working together in a collaborative and responsible manner to support cocoa farmers and their communities, in turn, strengthening entire regions through improved economy and food security. The greatest impact will come through all of us combining our strengths to do what is right, and necessary."
"Feed the Future, through USAID, is excited to contribute to the WCF African Cocoa Initiative. This alliance will help alleviate poverty and increase farmer incomes while strengthening government and regional institutions, advancing food security throughout West Africa," said Margaret Enis, Director of the Office of Markets, Partnerships and Innovation at USAID's Bureau for Food Security. "These outcomes are at the very heart of Feed the Future, the U.S. government's global hunger and food security initiative."
Jonas Mva Mva, IDH program manager cocoa, said, "The ambition of WCF/ACI is fully in line with our objectives to transform cocoa farming into a viable and sustainable business for smallholders. We are very pleased with this initiative because only by working in strong public-private coalitions, including local government, we can really make a change in the cocoa sector."
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. These efforts help increase the supply of cocoa and help guarantee chocolate lovers access to their favorite products. 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