CocoaAction, the joint sustainability strategy of the cocoa industry, is making progress moving towards implementation. At the strategy’s core are long-term solutions necessary to combat the complex challenges the cocoa industry faces today, which require substantial stakeholder collaboration and investment. The World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) convened eleven of the world’s leading cocoa and chocolate companies and launched CocoaAction in 2014. Recently latest achievements were communicated in the March 2015 progress report. Significant headway was made in agreeing on measurement standards, on alignment with origin governments, and in setting up infrastructure to provide planting material.

CocoaAction focuses on boosting productivity and strengthening community development in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, with the intention to scale up to other cocoa producing countries. To measure the impact of the CocoaAction strategy and report back on this, Key Performance Indicators are indispensable. These KPIs enable learning, impact and assure accountability of all the CocoaAction companies committed to the strategy. A milestone was reached in October 2014 when three KPIs were set for both focus areas. The KPIs for productivity are the following: number of farmers (1) applying good agricultural practices, (2) adopting recommended planting materials and (3) adopting fertilizer and soil fertility practices. The other three, for community development, are: (1) number of children participating in child labor practices, (2) number of women in leadership position in farmer organizations, and (3) percentage of children regularly attending school.

Alignment with all relevant stakeholders in the cocoa sector is essential for implementing a sector-wide sustainability strategy. The governments of the origin countries are important partners in implementation. A rich collaborative two-way communication line has been established between CocoaAction and the governments of Côte d’Ivoire (CdI) and Ghana. In both countries important steps have been taken. The Ghana Cocoa Board has designated points of contact to serve as direct liaisons to the CocoaAction team. Also, the CdI National Cocoa Agency has decided to integrate its 2QC strategy (Quantity, Quality, Growth) with CocoaAction.

The third area in which the CocoaAction strategy advanced is in building the infrastructure for the distribution of planting material and improving agricultural techniques. At present, cocoa trees are aging and new planting material is needed to rejuvenate the farms and secure future supply. CocoaAction made substantial progress on designing supply and delivery models for distribution of improved planting material. CocoaAction colleagues have worked diligently to develop a Memorandum of Understanding detailing process and implementation.

Sixty percent of the world’s cocoa is produced in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, where cocoa farming is the chief source of income for at least three million farmers. However, competition from other cash crops, declining soil fertility, and a lack of access to and knowledge of fertilizer, good agricultural practices and environmental stewardship are all issues the sector faces. The CocoaAction strategy tackles current challenges concerning productivity and intervenes on a community level to prepare the next generation of cocoa farmers. NewForesight technically facilitates the CocoaAction strategy and is very pleased to see the accomplishments CocoaAction has already achieved in such a short time. Next on the agenda is gathering data on the efficacy of the CocoaAction strategy and ensure further evolution towards set objectives. The challenges in the sector are considerable, but the constant progress towards long-term solutions inspires optimism that the necessary change can happen and is even underway.