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Cocoa harvests are shrinking, but The Cocoa Partnership, launched by Cadbury, is bringing stakeholders together to restore them and ensure a healthy crop in years to come.
On the basis of sales figures alone, it’s tempting to conclude that chocolate is one industry which could blithely ignore the fragile state of the worldwide economy. Last year’s revenue topped $100 million for the first time. But far from celebrating, the industry is worried.
Behind the scenes, shrinking cocoa harvests are leading to predictions of a serious slump in supply, while a striking lack of young people willing to take over family farms is compounding the problem.
No surprise, then, that one of the world’s largest purchasers of cocoa beans should be concerned for the future security of its vital supplies. In 2008, Cadbury launched the Cocoa Partnership, made up of governments, international organisations, NGOs and farmers, to help restore the dwindling industry and promote sustainable livelihoods for those involved. Since Kraft Foods acquired the company in 2010, it has maintained and expanded the programme and works in cocoa producing nations across the world. One of the most important of these is Ghana, home to around 700,000 cocoa farmers, and the main source of supply for Cadbury Dairy Milk. To date, the partnership has been able to help 60,000 farmers in over 200 cocoa growing communities.
In Bonkuku in the West Achim District, for example, nearly 100 farmers meet regularly to work on a community action plan with help from Cocoa Partnership partner Voluntary Service Overseas. Since 2009, they have established new seedling nurseries to improve production, secured second incomes through soap and pomade making, raised literacy levels and committed to securing electricity for the whole community by connecting to mains electricity by 2015. According to Anna Swaithes, Head of Development at the Cocoa Partnership, it is now planning to use programmes of knowledge sharing and political engagement to take livelihood improvements “beyond farmers who supply Kraft Foods, to the broader cocoa sector”. – Sarah Lewis-Hammond