By Sheryl Cowan, Vice President of Programs, CNFA and Marc Steen, CNFA’s Chief of Party of the Maximizing Opportunities in Cocoa Activity (MOCA)
Cote d’Ivoire is the largest cacao-producing country in the world, and earnings from the cultivation and sale of cocoa support 3.5 million Ivorians, including many smallholder farmers and their families. Yet, the cocoa industry in the country has been primarily geared towards production and less on quality, preventing farmers from supplying to and reaping the benefits from the growing fine chocolate industry.
From seedling to tree, the status of successful cultivation mirrors the financial health of the communities that depend on cocoa cultivation. However, smallholder Ivorian cocoa farmers have limited capacity to increase the amount of quality beans they can sell, and often lack access to competitive markets, which would otherwise be a viable means of increasing their income and improving their livelihoods.
Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), an international agricultural development organization, announced that the Fine Chocolate Industry Association (FCIA) and the Maximizing Opportunities in Cocoa Activity (MOCA) project, implemented by CNFA, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at FCIA’s Elevate Chocolate Summer 2018 meeting to address this challenge.
MOCA, a project funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food for Progress program provides capacity-building, training and other support services to cocoa producers, cooperatives and exporters in Côte d’Ivoire with the aim of improving the supply of high-quality cacao beans and increasing farm incomes. Activities to improve and expand the trade of cocoa and cocoa products focus on improving the quality of the crop, the processing and post-harvest handling techniques, and strengthening the market linkages and organization of groups towards more adequately meeting existing market demand.
FCIA, whose members focus on the production of premium chocolate and encourage utilizing the best practices in cocoa production and processing, will collaborate with MOCA to support the project through its membership activities.
“This collaboration enhances the individual efforts of MOCA and FCIA to improve the efficiency of the cocoa value chain in Côte d’Ivoire,” said CNFA President and Chief Executive Officer Sylvain Roy. “FCIA’s counsel will help farmers and businesses refine their production to meet the needs of the fine chocolate market—and MOCA’s training and guidance will improve the crop quality, processing, post-harvest handling and market linkages necessary to produce those high-quality products and get them to market.”
“This memorandum of understanding establishes a strong mutual bond between two parties who share a keen interest in cultivating the finest, high-quality cocoa,” said FCIA President Clark Guittard. “Through our new relationship with MOCA, our organization gains an informed, on-the-ground presence in the world’s leading cocoa-producing region.
The main thrust of the three-year MOCA program is to increase the productivity and efficiency of stakeholders in Côte d’Ivoire’s cocoa value chain to boost the quality of crops, expand cocoa trade and ultimately improve the incomes and livelihoods of cocoa farmers.
This partnership will provide added impetus to the most important goal of the MOCA initiative—generating increased incomes for the 600,000 smallholder farmers and families in Côte d’Ivoire who produce more than a third of the world’s cocoa supply, but live on less than $2 a day.
Featured image credits: CNFA, Nestlé