Richard Scobey, President of the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), has urged the adoption of six ‘core steps’ to strengthen the enabling business environment for sustainable, profitable cocoa.
Representing the WCF at a meeting of Multi-stakeholder Platform on Cocoa Market Developments convened by the International Cocoa Organization 19-20 July 2017 in Brussels, Belgium, Mr Scobey said his six steps included, firstly, a need for better coordination of national production policies and programmes to ensure stable and sustainable long-term supply management consistent with global demand projections, as agreed under the International Cocoa Agreement.
Second, industry, governments, and development partners need to work together to accelerate investment in long-term cocoa sustainability programmes like CocoaAction in West Africa. Joint action is required to boost farmer productivity and profitability in environmentally suitable areas through, inter alia, improved planting materials, good agricultural practices, financial inclusion, and agriculture and trade policy reforms. “Most importantly, as companies continue to invest in the development of professionalized and empowered cocoa farmers, governments will need to ensure a good safety net for smaller farmers who will transition from marginal cocoa production into other sustainable activities, in line with their approved national rural development and poverty reduction strategies,” Mr Scobey said.
“Third, our members are committed to a stronger focus on income diversification of cocoa farmers, particularly through development of mixed agro-forestry systems that combine cocoa, fruit, and other tree plantings, agricultural inter-cropping, and other income generating activities. This will increase household incomes, and help diversify production and price risks.”
“Fourth, our goal must be ‘more cocoa from less land.’ As we seek to improve the profitability of cocoa production, governments need to enact complementary measures for improved land-use planning and enforcement of national environmental regulations to ensure that cocoa is grown only in environmentally sustainable areas. Otherwise, we will be caught in a recurring vicious cycle of higher prices inducing over-supply from marginal lands.”
“Fifth,” said Mr Scobey, “we encourage increased transparency and discussion about the way government-regulated prices and cocoa taxes are determined in producing countries, and about the spending of these public cocoa tax revenues. The recent report commissioned by the Dutch Parliament highlights that farm-gate prices could be raised by improving the transparency, efficiency and effectiveness of the regulated pricing system and increasing private sector participation in input distribution in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.
“Finally, we will continue to invest significantly in the development and expansion of markets for cocoa and chocolate around the world – and we strongly support the goal of the origin governments to promote cocoa consumption in their own countries.”
For more information about what Mr Scobey had to say, see the forthcoming September 2017 issue of Coffee & Cocoa International.