The new President of the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), Rick Scobey, has outlined some of what he sees as the key priorities or the organisation. “I’ve known about the work of WCF for many years. In the international development community, the cocoa industry is viewed as a global leader in developing a strategic focus on sustainability. And WCF is widely recognized as a model organization for driving public-private partnerships for sustainable agriculture,” he explained. “What I didn’t know about WCF – and what I’ve learned over the past few weeks – is how passionate and committed everyone is about the cocoa sector.”
Mr Scobey has worked in agriculture and rural development for 35 years, including leading the World Bank’s programmes in agriculture and environment in Africa, and forestry in China. He said he was attracted to WCF because he sees what he described as “an unprecedented opportunity for public and private collaboration to improve the livelihoods of millions of poor cocoa farmers.”
Mr Scobey said he is convinced that CocoaAction provides an extraordinary platform to achieve this objective. “As we begin to map out the next phase of CocoaAction, I see three priorities where we can deepen our impact,” he said. “First, we need to scale up our coverage and demonstrate results. We are currently reaching about 300,000 farmers in the start-up phase, less than 5 per cent of total producers.
“Second, we need to tackle a broad set of issues to ensure sustainable livelihoods for cocoa farmers. Productivity investments are critical to boost yields and farmer income – but this alone will not be enough to raise cocoa farmers above the poverty line. I see an important role for WCF to work with governments and other partners to ensure an effective agriculture policy framework and business environment that benefits farmers, including support for farmer organizations, land tenure reform, sustainable provision of agricultural inputs and services, and improved trade and logistics infrastructure.
“Third, we need to build strong partnerships with all stakeholders in the supply chain. As the African proverb notes, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ I am extremely excited about the scope for deepening collaboration of industry with origin governments, CSO partners, international organizations like ICCO and ICI, and other stakeholders,” Mr Scobey concluded.