New partnership to focus on cocoa industry's sustainability

by Leah Sosland
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Sustainable cocoa
The partnership will address the threats climate change poses to cocoa sustainability.

STATE COLLEGE, PA. — The World Cocoa Foundation (W.C.F.) has unveiled plans to embark upon a new program that will reinforce collaboration between the public and private sector to address the threats climate change poses to cocoa sustainability and the livelihoods reliant upon the sector.

During a Penn State’s Frontiers in Science and Technology for Cacao Quality, Productivity and Sustainability meeting held May 31, Tim McCoy, president of the W.C.F., announced the W.C.F.-led partnership will bring together ACDI/VOCA, USAID and the world’s principal chocolate and cocoa companies. The intent of the partnership is to develop solutions to climate and weather variability and deforestation. It would mark the first time a partnership involving a multitude of stakeholders across the cocoa value chain has been brought together to combat imminent climate impacts on millions of smallholder cocoa farmers, national economies of cocoa producing countries and the global cocoa and chocolate industry, according to the W.C.F.

Members of the W.C.F. that are involved in the partnership include Barry Callebaut, Cargill, Ecom Agrotrade, The Hershey Co., Lindt & Sprüngli, Mars, Inc., Nestle, Olam International Ltd., and Touton.

Tim McCoy World Cocoa Foundation
Tim McCoy, president of the W.C.F.

“Addressing climate change is an important priority for the cocoa and chocolate industry, farmers, small businesses and national governments in origin producing countries, and the broader international community,” Mr. McCoy said. “Addressing this issue today will help prepare for tomorrow and will build the foundation for a strong private sector platform. Investing in climate smart cocoa is a critical step in ensuring greater sustainability in the cocoa sector and positions our industry to respond to the realities of climate change discussed at COP21 in Paris last year.”

As part of the new program, private sectors will receive expert advice from USAID and ACDI/VOCA to develop solutions and innovations for farmers, such as looking at climate resilient planting material, enhanced farming practices and new agroforestry models. In addition, the program will look for ways to address the issue of deforestation in cocoa growing regions, and member companies will collaborate with technical experts such as the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) on progressing research on climate modeling and deforestation mapping.

Mark Lundy, International Center for Tropical Agriculture
Mark Lundy, CIAT’s theme leader on linking farmers to markets

“Climate change will have significant impact on cocoa in West Africa with the majority of effects projected to occur by 2030,” said Mark Lundy, CIAT’s theme leader on linking farmers to markets. “This means that cacao planted today will need to adapt to changing rainfall patterns as well as higher temperatures during its productive lifespan. This new initiative is critical because it inserts solid climate projections for cocoa into private sector decision-making processes, allows for dialogues with public agencies and donors, and prioritizes collective investment plans to ensure a resilient cocoa sector that benefits farmers, companies and consumers into the future.”

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