Three well-known agencies are joining forces to invest in a new sustainable cocoa program in West Africa.

The World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) have launched the African Cocoa Initiative (WCF/ACI), a Global Development Alliance partnership.

The five-year, $13.5-million WCF/ACI program will target Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria and address four critical areas in those cocoa-producing countries.

Specifically, it will: foster public-private cooperative investments in cocoa and agriculture; emphasize improving the genetic quality and productivity of the cocoa varieties under cultivation; expand farmer education and training programs; and work to improve the agriculture input supply chains that serve the farmers.

Through WCF/ACI, the partner institutions are donating funding and expertise to improve farmer incomes, alleviate poverty, strengthen government and regional institutions, and help advance food security throughout the region.

The program ties into the U.S. government’s Feed the Future Initiative, which aims to increase agricultural productivity and the economic well-being of smallholder farmers.

Each of the nations targeted have endorsed WCF/ACI and are committing their agencies to participating and investing in its sponsored activities.

Additionally, important international organizations also will be contributing to its implementation, including the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the Alliance of Cocoa Producing Countries (COPAL) and the IFDC. All three will play a key role in providing expertise in genetics, cocoa policy and fertilizers, respectively, to the program.

The program will be headquartered at WCF’s office in Accra, Ghana to support activities across the region.

Private sector funding for this program comes from WCF member companies ADM Cocoa, Barry Callebaut, Blommer Chocolate Co., Cargill, Continaf BV, Ferrero, Guittard Chocolate Co., The Hershey Co., Kraft Foods, Lindt & Sprüngli, Nestlé, and Olam International Ltd.

Bill Guyton, WCF president, says the organization was pleased to launch a significant new partnership with USAID, WCF member companies, and the Sustainable Trade Initiative.

“WCF/ACI complements our existing programs and will enable us to reach many more cocoa farmers and build new partnerships in West and Central Africa,” he explains.

The Sustainable Trade Initiative’s executive director, Joost Oorthuizen, says the organization is looking “forward to supporting the important new cocoa initiative in West and Central Africa with the program partners.”

And Margaret Enis, director of the Office of Markets, Partnerships and Innovation, USAID Bureau for Food Security, says Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative, “is proud to be a major contributor to the African Cocoa Initiative through USAID. We look forward to this key public-private partnership, which will benefit smallholder cocoa growers in West Africa.”

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