(Vienna, VA) – The National Confectioners Association and the Chocolate Manufacturers Association are pleased to announce their decision to help fund a new public-private partnership bringing greater energy, ideas and resources to improving the lives of West African cocoa farmers and their families and communities. The Associations have each pledged two-year support for the “Initiative for African Cocoa Communities”.
Developed under the direction of the World Cocoa Foundation, IACC is a significant addition to the chocolate and cocoa industry’s commitment to affect positive changes in West African cocoa-growing regions. The IACC brings together industry, farmer groups, NGOs, development groups and others committed to the future of West Africa.
“It’s important for chocolate producers to be involved in the communities of cocoa farmers,” said CMA President Lynn Bragg. “The future of our industry is intrinsically NewLinked to the farms where our main ingredient is grown and the men and women who produce and harvest the cocoa crop. The IACC will help us find ways to ensure these farming families have the access they need to basic education for all family members, farmer training, health care and other important resources.”
West Africa produces 70 percent of the world’s cocoa: the crop is an engine for economic opportunity. In the Cote d’Ivoire, for example, cocoa provides more than 50 percent of household income for the five million people living on that country’s 600,000 cocoa farms.
Yet cocoa farmers face many challenges – severe (up to 100 percent) crop loss due to disease and pests; poor crop diversification; limited marketing systems, and other problems that impair their ability to make a livelihood from cocoa farming. Community issues like HIV/AIDS and access to education also impact the well-being of cocoa farming villages.
“Involvement in the IACC presents confectionery manufacturers, the end users of chocolate, with a unique opportunity,” said NCA President Larry Graham. “Our members are responsible corporations that value the work of cocoa farming families and seek to find ways to ensure these farmers have healthy futures –in terms of family income, education for the children, the latest instruction in farming methods and access to health and safety resources. The IACC brings us one step closer to those goals.”
Members of both Associations, including Cargill, The Hershey Company, Mars, Incorporated and Nestle USA, also have pledged support for the new partnership program.
“The World Cocoa Foundation is very grateful for the support and recognition of the industry’s main trade associations,” noted WCF President Bill Guyton. “Building stronger, more prosperous cocoa farming communities won’t happen overnight, but with the vision and long-term commitment of the IACC’s public and private sector partners, like NCA, CMA and their members, we can make a real difference.”