Global cocoa sustainability stakeholders are gathering today in Washington, D.C. for the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) 21st Partnership Meeting & Roundtable Sessions.

More than 300 guests from the cocoa industry, governments, NGOs, academia, and research institutes from 28 countries in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe, have convened to address some of the most pressing issues in cocoa sustainability.

The Partnership Meeting & Roundtable Sessions are the largest of the events the World Cocoa Foundation holds each year to advance cocoa sustainability understanding, collaboration and programs. The two-day meeting continues through Thursday afternoon with sessions including Conserving Cocoa Genetic Resources, Cocoa and Climate Change, the Role of Public-Private Partnerships in Feed the Future, Cocoa Sector Restructuring in Cote d'Ivoire, and Addressing Child Labor.

Sponsors for the meeting include Armajaro Trading Ltd., General Cocoa, Kraft Foods, Olam International Ltd., and Transmar Commodity Group.

Speakers of note include: Prime Minister of Cote d'Ivoire, Jeannot Ahoussou-Kouadio; Ms. Anne Alonzo, Kraft Foods, and WCF Chairwoman; Minister of Employment and Social Welfare, Ghana, Moses Asaga; Minister of Women, Family and Children, Cote d'Ivoire, Raymonde Coffie-Goudou; Mr. Anthony Fofie, Ghana Cocoa Board; Mr. Bill Guyton, President of WCF; Minister of State, Minister of Employment, Social Affairs and Solidarity, Cote d'Ivoire, Gilbert Kafana Kone; Mr. Bharat Puri, Kraft Foods; Governor Anwar Adnan Saleh, Governor of West Sulawesi, Indonesia; Madame Massandje Toure-Litse, Conseil du Cafe Cacao; and Dr. Catherine Woteki, Undersecretary for Research, Extension and Economics, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

This week, the global cocoa community came together to help improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers and their families, said Anne Alonzo, WCF Chairwoman and Vice President for Global Public Policy, Kraft Foods.

We care a great deal about the world's cocoa farmers. And by collaborating across the cocoa supply chain with governments, civil society and the cocoa and chocolate industry, we're able to maximize funding, training and know-how to more widely boost scale and accelerate development and change in more areas, more quickly than if we were to go it alone. By continuing to work together, we'll keep making progress.

WCF President Bill Guyton said, We are confident that the World Cocoa Foundation's work has led to higher incomes for cocoa farmers; geographic diversity of supply; stronger collaboration across industry, cocoa-producing governments, and development organizations; and greater sustainability for the cocoa sector overall.

Both Alonzo and Guyton focused on the importance of key stakeholders working together to achieve a sustainable cocoa economy and assure a more promising future for cocoa farmers and their families.

The World Cocoa Foundation presented an award to Anthony Fofie, Chief Executive of the Ghana Cocoa Board, for his contributions to, and support of, a sustainable cocoa economy.

WCF has worked with the Ghana Cocoa Board over the years through partnerships and programs to train farmers in improved productivity techniques, educate youth and youth adults, and develop innovative technology programs to deliver services and information to the field.

The World Cocoa Foundation's work is made possible by the active support and contributions of member companies and a strong network of global partners. WCF is pleased to welcome new members in 2011 and 2012: Darrell Lea (Australia); E.T. Browne Drug Company (United States); Fuji Oil (Japan); Indcresa (Spain); Novel Group (Switzerland); Royce' Confect Co., Ltd. (Japan); Sucres et Denrees (France); Tachibana & Co. (Japan); and Theobroma B.V. (Netherlands).

These companies join the global membership of cocoa and chocolate manufacturers, processors, supply chain managers, and other companies of all sizes that comprise WCF and represent more than 80% of the global cocoa market.

In addition to new membership, the WCF staff has grown to include accomplished experts who will represent WCF and provide additional outreach in cocoa-growing communities.

Michael Cullen, D. Phil. joins WCF as Senior Program Director and Timothy S. McCoy joins WCF as Senior Advisor, Outreach - both are based in Washington, D.C. Sona Ebai was recently named Chief of Party of the WCF African Cocoa Initiative (ACI); Akua Amoah-Boateng joins WCF as Finance Manager of WCF/ACI; Esi Amoah as Administrative Assistant of WCF/ACI; Takyi Sraha as Technical Advisor of WCF/ACI; and Issaka Traore as WCF Monitoring & Evaluation Specialist - all are based in the WCF West Africa regional office in Accra, Ghana.

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