Holding my camera by the side road and shooting videos of the arrival at the stop of Petit Bondoukou of the cars of from the Cocoa Action delegation, I told to myself that I am a real privileged guy in being a part of this important cocoa industry event being held in Côte d’Ivoire. Wow, all the “big names” of the cocoa Industry (chocolate manufacturers) are in Petit Bondoukou!!! That was quite unbelievable some years back, I said!
Under the leadership of World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), all of the major heads of the cocoa industry were gathering to discuss a collaborative and partnership approach to face the challenges in cocoa sector, especially those in Côte d’Ivoire, the largest cocoa producing country in the world (40% of the world production). In fact, most cocoa companies have already embarked upon cocoa producing sustainability initiatives or programs but the challenges are common and still remain. According to specialists, by 2020, if today’s trends continue, the industry will face a shortage of at least 1 million tons of cocoa. That could be a disaster for the whole industry and could put the whole supply chain at risk.
Back to my camera, I snapped the guests coming down all from one bus. It was 12.30 and the sun was shining perfectly. The rainfall of the day before had watered the road and fortunately there was no dust to blind me as cars were stopping all around. Great!
Dr Christophe Manger of the Vision for Change (V4C) project had prepared information sheets for the delegation, which they read on their way to the meeting comment. The delegation then listened to Dr Christophe after landing. “Welcome to the first Demonstration plot of Vision for Change Project funded my MARS here in Petit Bondoukou,” he introduced. Then in an ever brilliant speech, he set the objectives of the V4C Project and gave the performance figures of clones on trials.
To make actions speak more than words, Dr Christophe led the delegation in the grafted subplot while insisting on the performance of clones under experimentation. I heard someone in the delegation say, “wow, cocoa grafting actually works!!!” Responding to questions related to how the grafting is conducted, an ICRAF field technician showcased a grafting demonstration on an old cocoa tree, which prompted applause of congratulations by the delegation at the end.
But how can this new technology can reach the cocoa farmers? That is where the CVC Operator comes in! The last – but certainly not the least – stop for the field visit at Petit Bondoukou was at the CVC operator office (warehouse). It was actually very enriching. Joel, the CVC Operator, standing before his warehouse, reflected on when he started and what he has done so far! Selling 2000 bags fertilizers, pesticides, running a nursery of 27 0000 plants (all ready ordered), setting a clonal gardens …
“Could you give up what you’re doing today for a job in an office if you’re given such opportunity?” asked a visitor. With a confident smile, Joel responded that his making his living now, he can take care of his family. He has even bought a big motorbike to run his business….
The delegation then jumped into their bus after their 25 minute visit. One of them gave the “V” for Victory sign when getting on board. Presumably V4C is explaining the sustainable perspective.