Last week, the Vision for Change project was honored to welcome Madame Massandje Toure-Litse, Director General of the Cocoa & Coffee Council (Conseil Café Cacao) of Côte d’Ivoire, for a visit to two participating communities. The visit was a great success as Mme Toure-Litse recognized both the vision and the success of the program.
Madame Toure-Litse is an important partner and supporter of the Mars effort as well as those of the broader cocoa industry to make cocoa growing in Cote d’Ivoire more sustainable. In 2012, after becoming the head of the Cocoa and Coffee Council (CCC), she spearheaded the successful reform of the Ivorian cocoa sector, bringing significant benefits to the Ivorian cocoa farmer. As the Director General of the CCC, her decisions have a significant impact on the cocoa sector.
It is gratifying that Madame Toure-Litse chose to visit two Vision for Change communities. It is an indication that she sees the V4C model as not only a successful one in helping productivity but also in empowering cocoa communities. Our work in the community development arena is critically important as we are helping communities prioritize their needs, then supporting projects, such as schools and health clinics, which will improve the quality of life in the region.
During the visit, she met with a CVC operator and was able to see how much success he has had because of the training and support he has received. She also saw the critical community development work that Vision for Change is pursuing, helping to empower cocoa communities to improve their quality of life.
In an interview, she emphasized that Mars was one of the very first companies with which the CCC developed a “partnership,” which is beyond mere collaboration. “We are very satisfied with MARS,” Madame Toure-Litse insisted.
“We run together actions related to productivity and to Community development. My feeling is that communities have endorsed the Mars and CCC vision of involving local inhabitants to determine their own needs,” she said in an interview, which you can watch below. “You certainly have seen that during these two days. We presided over ceremonies to inaugurate schools, health centers and [water] pumps. Communities are really involved in the whole process, for they have contributed to the funding.”
She added, “We‘re really satisfied with this approach. Mars has actually pioneered this among the industry. MARS had got the vision, the first so to speak, to become associated with CCC to conduct productivity actions but also support community development operations by associating with cocoa producing communities. We are very satisfied.”
You can also watch a video of her visit below:
Yossi Toledano is currently Mars’ Cocoa Sustainability Director of West Africa. In this role, Yossi has led his team’s efforts to gain third-party support in cocoa-producing countries. Specifically, Yossi has played a leadership role in Mars’ Vision for Change (V4C) initiative in Cote d’Ivoire, and has provided support to the company’s Global Chocolate Cocoa Strategy. Going forward, Yossi will continue to lead West Africa sustainability efforts, with a focus on V4C, and to provide support to the implementation of the Global Chocolate Cocoa Strategy in other regions.
Previously, Yossi served as a senior rural development specialist at the World Bank. At the Bank, Yossi’s primary role was as technical lead on a wide range of multi-million dollar rural development projects in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. He also led the Bank’s policy work and partner-based initiatives around tree crops, biodiversity, and improved rice varieties. Yossi built significant donor, industry, and Government support for country and regional partnership partner commitments in his career at the Bank. Indicative partners included the FAO, the AfDB, IFAD, USAID, CIRAD, Mars, Monsanto, and Nestle. Early in his career at the Bank, Yossi worked with the Guinean Ministry of Agriculture to make step-change improvements in Guinea’s agriculture extension services.
Yossi holds a joint MS in Agriculture Crop Intensification and Agriculture Extension in Developing Countries, from Hebrew University. He holds a BS in Agriculture, also from Hebrew University. Yossi is bilingual, in Hebrew and English, and speaks French fluently. His country experience spans Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Guinea, Indonesia, Mali, Niger, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Senegal, and Vietnam.