More than 200,000 cocoa-farming families in West and Central Africa will be growing more cocoa and producing more food for their own tables within the next five years.

That’s all thanks to a new program by the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Walmart Foundation.

The initiative, known as the Cocoa Livelihoods Program, will train cocoa farmers in Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon about good agricultural practices and farm management skills. It will also provide them with resources to increase productivity in cocoa and food crops. The four countries account for more than 70 percent of the world's supply of cocoa.

The Walmart Foundation is excited to bring high quality training that will help women farmers especially, says Julie Gehrki, senior director of the Walmart Foundation. The program is a part of efforts by Walmart and the Walmart Foundation to support training of nearly 1 million small farmers in emerging markets, half of whom are women, by 2015.

“We believe increased skills will lead to greater financial independence for these women and give them the opportunity to improve the lives of their families,” Gehrki explains.

Cocoa farmers in the four countries will receive assistance in accessing agricultural inputs such as fertilizer and planting materials, have access to a growth fund that will provide financial tools and credit needed to purchase critical cocoa inputs, and will receive valuable information on empowering women who tend to care for the household.

The training will provide cocoa farmers with skills essential for improving the quality of life and economic well being of themselves, their families and communities.

WCF is proud of the new partnership, which includes more than a dozen WCF corporate measures because it continues the mission to improve cocoa-farming communities in West Africa, says Bill Guyton, president of the World Cocoa Foundation.

"The private-private partnership model that we have built to support programs like these is helping to make a real difference in the lives of countless people where cocoa is grown," he adds.