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Washington, U.S.A. – The World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) is launching a $4 million initiative to benefit 35,000 cocoa farmers in three West African countries that are among the world’s largest producers of cocoa. The announcement comes as part of the Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security, taking place alongside the 2012 G8 Summit in Washington.
“WCF and our Member companies continue to invest in Sub-Saharan Africa and work together with national governments and partners to show our long-term commitment to cocoa farmers in the region,” said WCF President Bill Guyton. Guyton also noted recent findings that demonstrate a strong link between modern cocoa farming techniques and food security in cocoa-growing areas.
Guyton said, “Cocoa farmers already have mastered concepts essential for producing crops and bringing a product to market. Cocoa trees are well suited for combining with food crops. Cocoa farmers are uniquely positioned to form a cornerstone of many countries’ food security strategies.”
The new $4 million in WCF support comes in the form of a matching grants program and financial growth fund to provide business training and improved farming techniques to small-scale family farmers in Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, and Cameroon. Program activities will be carried out under the auspices of WCF’s ongoing $40 million Cocoa Livelihoods Program, which is co-funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and 16 leading WCF members.
The investment is matched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Sustainable Trade Initiative and WCF Member company partners, with the aim of doubling farm household incomes. WCF Member companies participating in the matching grants program include Kraft Foods; Mars, Incorporated; Cargill; ADM Cocoa; Barry Callebaut; Armajaro Trading Ltd.; ECOM Cocoa; and Olam International Ltd.
As a complement to the new program, WCF Member The Hershey Company has developed a text messaging service to support cocoa farmers in the field by providing critical information on fertilizer application, plant husbandry, harvesting techniques and other farming practices, as well as social messaging on topics such as prevention of HIV/AIDS and malaria.
Through the program, WCF also will increase cocoa farmers’ access to credit for fertilizer and other needs. The program additionally provides support to cocoa farmer organizations to expand their outreach to non-member farmers and to improve business operations. The program will be self-sustaining.
Image Courtesy of Gates Foundation