Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of Agriculture, M. Mamadou Sangafowa, along with a delegation of nearly 200 government officials traveled to a Mars-sponsored Cocoa Development Center in Soubré last month for a four-day field visit. While he was there, Minister Sangafowa commended V4C’s efforts to help cocoa farmers create sustainable businesses.
Earning Minister Sangafowa’s support represents a tremendous achievement for V4C. It clears the way for us to get funding from the World Bank and several other NGOs who would not have agreed to work with us if we did not have the government’s endorsement.
The Minister echoed our calls to modernize the cocoa sector and encouraged the formation of a national strategy to improve cocoa planting materials. The Minister also expressed his support for the use of grafting on cocoa farms — a process that allows farms to produce many more pods than traditional farming techniques without exhausting anywhere near as many environmental resources. To be exact grafts will produce approximately 1.5 mt/ha and that is a lot more than traditional farming techniques. Before V4C, no one had ever attempted grafting on cocoa farms in West Africa, and its success here is a significant step forward in our mission. The visit allowed government officials to see with their own eyes that the private sector can take the lead on rehabilitating the world’s cocoa farms; the work need not be confined to the private sector. By partnering with governments and NGOs, we can ensure the survival of the industry.
The visit concluded on May 15 with a planting material workshop, for which 43 representatives from over 15 institutions — including the Ministry of Agriculture, the Conseil du Café-Cacao, the World Bank, Nestlé, and Mars — shared their ideas for how to improve cocoa planting materials. The workshop participants agreed that a viable national strategy must make use of hybrid seeds, somatic embryogenesis, and clonal material if Côte d’Ivoire is to keep up with current and future demand.
We are very grateful to Minister Sangafowa for recognizing our work, and his support is a significant milestone in our mission to rely solely on sustainable cocoa by 2020.