Sunday, March 23, 2014

Global Approaches to Cacao Germplasm Utilization and Conservation by Eskes and Efron

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Cocoa is a commodity produced in the developing countries of the tropics and consumed mostly in the middle- and high-income countries of the world's temperate zones. Currently, over 50 countries engage in cocoa production, of which some heavily rely on cocoa exports for their economic development as they contribute significantly to their foreign exchange earnings.

From a level of 1.5 million tonnes in 1983-84, world production of cocoa beans is steadily rising and has reached a peak of 3.5 million tonnes in 2003-04. This significant increase is almost entirely due to an expansion of production area. Over 90% of world cocoa is produced by smallholder farmers who rely almost entirely on the supply of improved planting material from national and international research institutes. Nearly all producing countries grow cocoa on an extensive basis resulting in low average yields, which - on global average - have only increased little over the past three decades. This contrasts with the often dramatic advances in yields of other tropical or temperate crops and in particular for other raw materials, often used to manufacture snack foods which are competitive with cocoa. Gains in global yield and productivity of cocoa are now essential. As pressure on available land increases, the need for higher yielding, pest- and disease-resistant cocoa varieties becomes ever more urgent. This Technical Paper is the result of work undertaken in the CFC/ICCO/IPGRI project: "Cocoa Germplasm Utilization and Conservation: a Global Approach", which aimed at a more sustainable production of cocoa at lower costs, by making optimal use of cocoa germplasm. Special attention was paid to the evaluation and selection of resistance to some of the major diseases and pests, such as black pod, witches' broom, vascular streak dieback, moniliasis, cocoa swollen shoot virus and mirids, which together cause losses of an estimated 40% percent of annual world cocoa production. The Common Fund for Commodities acknowledges the significant inputs of both the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) as Project Supervisory Body, and the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI) as Project Executing Agency for the successful implementation of the project in 12 countries. In line with the policy to disseminate the information produced by activities financed by the Fund, it is my expectation that this publication will be instrumental to make the results and experiences of this project available to a wider audience. It is hoped that extension workers, researchers and policy-makers would find this publication useful and relevant for improving access of higher yielding, good bean quality and disease-resistant cocoa varieties to farmers.

Category: Technical guidelines/Technical bulletins
Author: Eskes, A.B.; Efron, Y. (eds.)
Corporate Author: International Cocoa Organization (ICCO), London (United Kingdom); International Plant Genetic Resources Instit., (IPGRI), Rome (Italy)
Pages: 224 p.
Publication Year: 2006
Publication Format: A4; PDF
ISBN-10: 92-9043-734-0
ISBN-13: 978-92-9043-734-5
Language: EN

Monday, March 10, 2014

World Cocoa Conference 2014

The 2014 World Cocoa Conference is being organized by the International Cocoa Organization ( and will be hosted by the government of The Netherlands. 

With the theme 'Towards a Sustainable Cocoa Economy', the second edition of the World Cocoa Conference, will look at the progress made in achieving the goals outlined in the Global Cocoa Agenda and the Abidjan Cocoa Declaration, signed by the key stakeholders at the first edition in Cote d'Ivoire in 2012. 

Scheduled for 9-13 June, 2014, in Amsterdam, the event will include a wide-ranging and very international Conference focusing on all the important issues in the cocoa and chocolate industry, an Exhibition showing the latest products and services available to the sector, a Conference Dinner, sightseeing, site visits and more.

Sustainable cocoa is a major goal, and the Conference will look at the ways in which major cocoa and chocolate companies, national governments of producing and consuming countries, and NGOs and development agencies are tackling the issues involved.

Check website here -

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sustainable Cocoa and Certification

While doing research on cacao certification I was led to ICCO website and found out lots of documents from their site. The Philippines is not yet a member of ICCO give that it is not producing big quantity of cacao/cocoa, but forward looking, the Philippine government should consider becoming a member with the renewed enthusiasm of cacao growers and farmers to plant more cacao trees and produce tons of cocoa.

This is a good read and reference but what I am after is a standard also for organic cacao, still this is a good basis for setting up such standards. In the framework though - dominance of profit over planet and people seems to me a very striking representation on the issue of sustainability. What would be the more appropriate representation for this diagram - that's the challenged that ought to be addressed!

The following are the main description of the framework:

Basic People (Social Responsibility) Principles
There is no specific definition of social sustainability and there is strong overlap and influence of the other dimensions. For the purposes of this discussion, the social dimension places people at the center. Focusing on commonalities of initiatives operating in the cocoa sector, issues of Human Rights, Communities, Labor Rights and Working Conditions (including Health and Safety) are included. These principles also consider The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as well as the Ethical Trading Initiative and Social Accountability International's SA8000 standard. Italicized issues have a high degree of overlap but not consistently across other initiatives.

Basic Planet (Environmental) Principles
Responsible environmental stewardship in cocoa‐farms and communities. Sustainable cocoa farming seeks to utilize natural resources in such a way that they can regenerate their productive capacity, and also minimize harmful impacts on ecosystems beyond a farm boundary.

Basic Profit (Economic) Principles
The viability of cocoa farming systems depends on its ability to contribute to the economic security of the key actors. At the farm level, economic viability security includes individual producers, producer groups, as well as maintaining household economic security while maintaining or increasing the quality of life for farm families and workers. Historically, the goal of economic viability and sustainable farmer livelihoods has been an assumption of outcomes of the sustainability standards, not necessarily integrated into the standard requirements.

Sustainable Cocoa and Certification
Working Document for Direct Dialogues workshop 
March 6th‐ 7th, 2014
February 22, 2014
Prepared for the ICCO
Aimee Russillo

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Demand for “sustainable” cocoa in developed countries has been increasing and major chocolate manufacturers such as Mars Incorporated, MondelĂ©z International, NestlĂ©, Ferrero and Hershey have now publicly committed to source only cocoa that is certified sustainable that will eventually reach 100% fully certified by 2020. As these five leading companies represent about 50% of global cocoa use, the impact of such a strong commitment on the cocoa supply chain cannot be underestimated. This commitment and partnerships with voluntary sustainability standards has driven double and triple digit growth across the major sustainability standard schemes active in the sector (Fairtrade, Organic, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ Certified). Global market penetration over the four years to 2012 as expanded from 3% to 22% according to a recently released report.1

Of concern to some stakeholders is that the current models are certifying the status quo i.e. cocoa producers that are already well organized in successful cooperatives who can more easily meet (or invest in) compliance requirements. Due to the relative early stages of the sector, voluntary standard systems have most likely focused on those early adopters as “the low hanging fruits”. Considering that poverty represents one of the main sustainability issues of commodity production more generally, the vast majority of cocoa farmers remain marginalized and unable to benefit from certification. Evidence on economic gains through certification for cocoa producers is still scarce.

In addition, The European Committee for Standardization (CEN) has developed a technical committee as part of an ISO process to develop a sustainable and traceable cocoa standard CEN/TC 415. Most recently, the ISO/TC 34 working group 4 on cocoa has been elevated to a subcommittee designed to ensure more producing country participation. Some industry players have also developed their own sustainable cocoa programs and codes for their supply chains.

In view of multiplicity of standards and perceived limitations, (including relevance and applicability to local conditions and capacities), national authorities in some producing countries are now considering developing their own criteria to promote sustainable cocoa. A national standard may offer the advantage of including sector experience and thus making standards requirements more adapted to local reality, as well as improve smallholder access. These efforts are generally harmonized around standard criteria for certification. It remains to be seen whether the recent establishment of the ISO/TC 34 cocoa sub‐committee, with equal participation of producing countries, will integrate any current national level efforts.

Multiple standards are not necessarily a negative thing. Different standards with different approaches offer farmers, producer groups and buyers the opportunity for choice and alternatives that best suit their needs and interests. A marketplace with options can lead to real innovation and can drive performance improvement of the standards through competition. However, the proliferation of certification initiatives at the national, international, private and public levels, all claiming to achieve sustainability and targeting the same cocoa producers, has led to confusion and supply chain pressure to the detriment of smallholders. One of the main challenges is how each of the different systems defines sustainability and how they can complement one another.

Lack of Common Definition for Sustainability

Yet, there is no common agreement on what “sustainable” cocoa means, with some overlap between private, public and national efforts. Numerous past and current initiatives have attempted to address this challenge including The Roundtable for a Sustainable Cocoa Economy (RSCE), ISEAL, GIZ's Cocoa Forum, the World Cocoa Foundation among others. Despite considerable efforts made to harmonize the criteria and approach to measure and reward sustainability, there is a general recognition among cocoa stakeholders that much remains to be done. With the scale and complexity of the challenges in the sector, more cooperation is essential to secure social responsibility, environmental stewardship and economical viability for a sustainable cocoa economy. Different approaches towards sustainable cocoa production are needed and there is increasing attention for solutions in the pre‐competitive domain.

Moving Forward Collaboratively

Against this background, the ICCO organized an international workshop on cocoa certification which was held in Cameroon in June 2013. A recommendation from the workshop was that the ICCO would facilitate a follow‐up workshop, called direct dialogue, initially between the cocoa and chocolate industry and cocoa producing /exporting countries. Subsequently, it was recognized that the inclusion of all stakeholders, including NGOs, development organizations and standard systems were necessary for this direct dialogue.

The follow up workshop has been developed in coordination with the United Nations Forum on  sustainability Standards (UNFSS) and takes place early March 2014. Participation will include representatives from cocoa producing countries and the cocoa and chocolate industry, as well as private voluntary standards schemes, CEN/ISO and national standards either already established or being considered by cocoa‐producing countries.

1The State of Sustainability Initiatives Review 2014: Standards and the Green Economy.

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Sunday, March 2, 2014

CNN on Cocoa-nomics


This CNN cocoa-nomics infographics is very interesting. Philippines is consuming (import data, I suppose) more cacao and chocolate than it is producing. But one thing missing for sure in this data is households use of cacao for drink that is tablea. There are several households scattered in the whole Philippines that grow in their backyard cacao and make their own tableya for drink (or use to flavor champorado and other dish). I have yet to see data on this regard. So the data above is informed mostly of those importations made by the country.

Below are several article and video links on CNN's take on Chocolate or cocoa-nomics:

CNN Short Videos/Teasers (take time to stream - slow connection):
Cocoa farmers taste chocolate for first time
'Cocoa-nomics': The issue of child labour
'Cocoa-nomics': Certified child free cocoa
Schedule of documentary showing
‘Cocoanomics’ can also be seen at the following times:
Thursday 27 February at 2100 GMT / 2200 CET
Friday 28 February at 0400 GMT / 0500 CET and 1030 GMT / 1130 CET
Saturday 1 March at 1400 GMT / 1500 CET and 1130 GMT / 1230 CET
Sunday 2 March at 1030 GMT / 1130 CET and 1930 GMT / 2030 CET
Monday 3 March at 0100 GMT / 0200 CET, 0430 GMT / 0530 CET and 0830 GMT / 0930 CET
Wednesday 5 March at 1730 GMT / 1830 CET


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Online Course on Cacao Production

I found this online and sharing it here for all those interested to know more about cacao production, growing or farming. I hope that this kind of training gets translated in the different Philippine languages to benefit more people especially cacao farmers.

The production of good quality cacao beans starts with the right variety or clones. It is then assured with the adoption of appropriate tree culture and farm practices, harvesting, fermentation and drying. It requires conscious effort on the part of the farmers to ensure that cacao beans meet the standard of quality required in the market.
While this concern addresses the economic and well being of a cacao farmer, he should also be responsible in assuring the well being of the future cacao farmers. The farmer’s endeavor must, therefore, be hinged on the concept of sustainability and environmental accountability.

The farmer’s effort necessitates continued support primarily in terms of technology and market updates. The availability, accessibility and timeliness of such information obtained at least cost, are major enabling factors to farmers to arrive at sound farm decisions. This context emphasizes the significant role of the extension agents and the farmer-leaders as links between farmers and technology sources, as well as between farmers and the market. Thus, the extension capabilities of the extension agents and the farmer-leaders should be enhanced to help the cacao farmers maintain a steady source of income and be at the mainstream of the cacao industry.

This eLearning module shall be a friendly guide on the verified technologies and practices on cacao production that could share when they conduct training to farmers. It contains basic steps, methodologies, practices and considerations in growing cacao based on technologies from both private and public research institutions.

If this is your first experience of an eLearning program, click here to get started and learn how to navigate through the program, find out what different icons mean and know how to get support. Make sure you also familiarize yourself with this program before starting.

Otherwise, if you are ready to begin the Cacao Production program, click the topics below for the lesson links:

Establishment of Budwood Garden or Scion Grove

Establishment and Management of Cacao Nursery

Propagation of Planting Materials

Field Planting


Plant Nutrition

Making Compost Using Pod Husks

Management of Common Cacao Pests and Diseases

Harvesting and Post Harvest Operations

Standard Quality Specification


Rehabilitation of Cacao Trees

Module Quiz

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