Abidjan 20 November 2012 For over a hundred years, cocoa has been the black gold of Western Africa, despite a political trading past that has often darkened the pages of history. Now, a partnership between two unlikely organizations promises a change in how farmers benefit from the cocoa trade.
Mars Incorporated, in partnership with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and national partners, will increase the production of cocoa for smallholder farmers in Cte d'Ivoire. Through the Vision for Change: Sustainable Cocoa Communities project between ICRAF and the chocolate company Mars Inc., Tony Simons, the Director General of the World Agroforestry Center, envisions enormous opportunities for private-public partnerships that will benefit smallholder farmers, not just in West Africa but also in other parts of the developing world.
"There is no reason why a farmer should remain poor if private-public partnerships are structured in a way that provides a mutually beneficial relationship," says Simons, "We should see increased yields and greater returns for both the farmer and the multinational corporation."
Dr. Simons was speaking at the opening of the new somatic embryogenesis lab at the Centre National de Recherche Agronomique (CNRA) headquarters in Adiopodoume, Cote d'Ivoire. The lab will provide research space for work on germplasm multiplication, which will in turn provide farmers with cocoa crop that can withstand diseases and pests such as the devastating cocoa pod borer.
Globally, cocoa is produced by 6.5 million smallholder families, many of whom make a meager living from the trees. Demand for cocoa is increasing by 2% a year and to keep pace, annual production must rise by 1 million tonnes over the next decade.
The Vision for Change partnership of Mars Inc., ICRAF, CNRA, Agence Nationale d'Appui au Dveloppement Rural (ANADER) works to improve the livelihoods of farmers through research on developing improved cocoa varieties, securing m
|Contact: Wambui Kamiru|
World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)