Sustainable cocoa leaves a sweet taste

The World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) has announced a new initiative designed to improve the sustainability of cocoa – the main ingredient used to produce many of your favourite chocolate products.

What?

Cocoa is produced in some of the poorest parts of the world, including regions in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and is an industry that has been prone to poor working conditions and pay.

Now, the WCF has announced $3 million in support for cocoa improvement projects. These projects will make use of a range of methods and technology, such as internet resources, mobile phones and microfinance which will provide cocoa farmers with information that will allow them to increase the quality and quantity of their cocoa.

"Our commitment to cocoa sustainability is rooted at the source – with farmers, farms, and cocoa communities," said Bill Guyton, WCF president.

"These new efforts across the globe by WCF to ensure cocoa sustainability will directly benefit cocoa farmers by the tens of thousands."

How?

Cocoa farmers in Cote d'Ivoire, for example, will receive a new mobile phone based system which will give farmers access to information on good agricultural practices.

A new school project will also be started to provide better educational opportunities for children in cocoa farming communities.

In Nigeria, 70,000 cocoa farming households will be given support with business training and other ways to increase their income.

The aim of these initiatives is to better working conditions, encourage sustainable agricultural practices, improve the skills of farmers and to increase the incomes of those working in the cocoa industry.

What can I do?

Much like switching from disposable takeaway coffee mugs to reusable coffee cups, you can turn you sweet treat into a sustainable one.

Check the labelling on chocolate items to see if they are produced sustainably or are a fair trade product, and choose to support these options.

It's not just chocolate either – a number of other products may include cocoa – such as cocoa butter or powder and body products, so look out for these as well.