Despite significant investments by the public, private, and non-profit sectors in initiatives aimed at sustainability in the cocoa sector, cocoa farming continues to face significant challenges. Ageing trees, depleted soils, child labor, lack of good agricultural practices, and increased competition for other cash crops are leading to suboptimal production. Too many farmers are trapped in a cycle of economic and social decline, and cocoa farming is losing its appeal as a viable livelihood among younger generations.
Recognizing that a different approach is required to tackle the issues in the cocoa sector, industry leaders voluntarily committed to collaborate in order to increase impact and accelerate sustainability in the cocoa sector. This ultimately led to CocoaAction, the strategy of the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) that coordinates and aligns the cocoa sustainability efforts of ten of the world’s leading cocoa and chocolate companies, increasing their impact towards a rejuvenated and economically viable cocoa sector.
Due to our experience in initiating, shaping, and driving industry-led multi-stakeholder initiatives, as well in-depth knowledge of sustainable market transformation in tropical commodities (including cocoa), NewForesight was asked by WCF to support the development of CocoaAction on both technical and strategic levels.
Since West African countries are responsible for more than half of the world cocoa supply, the main cocoa producing countries in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire were selected as a starting point for CocoaAction. By identifying Productivity and Community Development as the main regional priorities, CocoaAction companies have agreed upon a set of interventions for smallholder farmers and their communities that will lead to the vision of a rejuvenated and economically viable cocoa sector in these countries.
NewForesight has been supporting WCF in the further development of the CocoaAction approach since its inception in 2013, on both strategic (e.g., shared vision, mission, Theory of Change) and technical levels (e.g., Results Framework, Community Development manual, Farmer Economic Model). Ultimately, WCF achieved commitment to a shared vision, shared KPIs, a common Results Framework, structures for effective collaboration, and a high level of alignment and enthusiasm among CocoaAction companies moving into implementation.
At the moment the initiative is moving towards a phase of program implementation. This means on the practical side that CocoaAction companies provide farmers access to planting material, fertilizer, and knowledge on Good Agricultural Practices, in order to scale up productivity. Additionally, interventions in the area of basic education, child labor and women’s empowerment will contribute to thriving cocoa communities.
However, this period is also one of looking forward, and thinking about broadening the impact on the cocoa sector as a whole. NewForesight continues to support the World Cocoa Foundation and CocoaAction companies in further developing these strategic elements.