The World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) has grown from a handful of large companies into a diverse group of firms that represent over 80% of the global cocoa market. How important is this diversification?
BG: WCF has over 100 company members: about one-third from Europe, another third from North America, and the remaining from countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Our members are branded companies, processors, exporters, input suppliers, agri-dealers and banks. This allows us to see supply chains from various perspectives and provides us with a more holistic view on how to tackle cocoa sustainability.
How can the WCF’s make the international cocoa industry more sustainable?
BG: Our role is to take diverse perspectives, from within the industry and from outside, and to achieve the active involvement of cocoa growing communities. We work with coca producing governments, international and local NGOs, and technical experts to develop training packages and reach out to farmers. We tailor our approach to the community’s needs, rather than from the top-down. A newly established dual leadership structure in WCF, based on strategic governance and technical input, is also expected to strengthen our organization and expand our outreach to farmers.
What are the objectives of Cocoa Measurement and Progress (CocoaMAP) and how relevant is the program to IFC’s agribusiness clients?
SF: CocoaMAP – a web based tool kit – was launched by WCF to grapple with the challenges of operating a more sustainable supply chain and to support a closer collaboration in the cocoa industry through certain indicators and measurements. This year we focus on West-Africa (Ivory Coast and Ghana) to establish a framework of Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) to help guide strategic activities and to measure the status of sustainability issues, including social, environmental, economic and productivity topics. We have narrowed down a set of priorities around measures and performance issues. Moving forward in 2014, 2015 and 2016 we will start building a resource for information so that the industry – as well as IFC clients – can draw on for sustainability issues.
What has been the most important accomplishment of this effort?
SF: First, consensus around measuring what matters for industry partners. We have led discussions around various frameworks of measurement, bringing in an industry perspective that was new to certifiers, NGO’s and third parties. Second, CocoaMAP has developed a farmer information toolkit that is open-sourced and available to all companies, extension agents and governments to help with farm surveys, farm inventories and data collection.
Sourcing certified cocoa can lead to significant investments in certification. What challenges do you see that could hinder the industry from reaching its sustainability targets?
BG: One of the biggest challenges we face are the number of small scale farmers who work independently and who are not organized in cooperatives or groups. Another challenge is ensuring that farmers receive the right inputs, including seeds and fertilizers, to improve productivity.
What kind of difference do you think training can make?
BG: I believe that investing in training and providing the right incentives and inputs to farmers is crucial so that they can improve their livelihoods. In Ghana I recently visited two farms. One had been involved in a public-private partnership on cocoa sustainability, the other had not. The farmer who had not participated had diseased trees and did not know the size of his farm or his productivity level. The other farmer had received improved materials, had grafted and pruned his trees, had access to fertilizers and had invested in other off-farm activities. The contrast was incredible.
How important are partnerships to WCF?
BG: We learn a lot through partnerships. We partner with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on our Cocoa Livelihoods Program in West-Africa. Through this collaboration we now integrate a gender focus to support women farmers. Although cocoa is sometimes considered a men’s craft in West Africa, women play a major role in the farm activities. We realized that a “one training fits all” for women and men farmers makes no sense. We now seek a smarter way to reach women effectively.
Could you share one advice that you feel is overlooked in the industry?
BG: That there is power in working together. No one company alone can solve the problems; even the industry alone can’t solve the problems. It’s also important to work with governments on the federal and local levels to find solutions.
What is your vision for the future of the cocoa industry?
BG: My wish is to see even better collaboration among public and private sector partners in finding solutions to improving the livelihoods of farmers in cocoa growing areas of the world.