From Côte d’Ivoire – World Cocoa Conference and More

Last week, we had the pleasure of attending the World Cocoa Conference in Abidjan, where Barry Parkin, our Global Procurement and Sustainability Head, gave a keynote address to the main session.

While at the conference, we also had the opportunity to meet with several of our industry peers, and at the end of the week, we signed the “Abidjan Declaration” to confirm our support for a global, sector-wide approach to creating a sustainable cocoa industry.

As we’ve said before, our primary focus in promoting sustainable cocoa production is to put farmers first and prioritize our activities to increase their incomes and improve their livelihoods. Overall, we were happy to see this message begin to take hold in the industry, though everybody also agrees that there is still much work to do.

The conference was widely reported locally, and you can see a video overview of the conference opening here and an overview of the closing here.

  While in Côte d’Ivoire, we also took the opportunity to visit one of our first cocoa development centers in Petit Bondoukou, and we were proud to meet with the President, Alassane Ouattara, to discuss our long-term commitment to the Ivorian cocoa industry.

As well, we were ecstatic to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Cocoa and Coffee Council that will put over US $2 million directly into community development projects in cocoa communities next year.

Last, and certainly not least, we were very excited to join our implementing partner, the World Agroforestry Centre, to cut the ribbon on a new somatic embryogenesis laboratory in Côte d’Ivoire that will produce tens of thousands of clonal plants each year to create budwood gardens that will eventually supply hundreds of thousands of farmers with high quality planting material they can use to rehabilitate their farms.

While it was a very busy week for our team, we couldn’t be happier with the progress made in Côte d’Ivoire so far, even though we recognize that we have a long way to go.  While we might take a little break over Christmas, we’re already looking forward to our next visits to Côte d’Ivoire early in 2013!

For more photos of last week’s activities, check out the galleries below.

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