USDA MOCA and Project Hope and Fairness Join Forces to Promote Ivoirian Chocolate
ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food for Progress-funded Maximizing Opportunities in Cocoa Activity (MOCA) has partnered with Project Hope and Fairness (PH&F), a U.S. based non-profit organization to promote local cocoa processing and chocolate manufacturing business and facilitated to national and international standards. The first shipment of 1,900 chocolate bars was shipped to the U.S. in February 2017. Implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), an international agricultural development organization based in Washington D.C., MOCA focuses on increasing the productivity and efficiency of actors in the cocoa value chain.
As the world’s largest cocoa producer, Côte d’Ivoire, produces about 45 percent of the annual global cocoa production with over 2.1 million tons of dried cocoa beans per year. It is estimated that 6 million people depend on cocoa for their daily income. About 70 percent of Ivorian cocoa beans are mainly exported directly and 30 percent are processed locally into semi-finished products, such as cocoa powder, liquor, and butter.
While Ivorians have seen opportunities to develop chocolate’s local production for the national and international market, the production of consumer cocoa products, mainly chocolate, remains small-scale. To support the government policy and Ivorian initiatives, MOCA has provided grants and technical support to Ivorian entrepreneurs who have started local cocoa processing businesses, including SOCOPLAN, which shipped over 2,000 chocolate bars on September 22, 2020.
SOCOPLAN, a cooperative with a chocolate factory located in Depa, a village west of the Ivory Coast, was formed by David Logbo Zigro, brother of Depa’s chief with financial support from PH&F.
“Initiatives like those of Mr Zigro are incredibly important because they showcase the opportunities that exist for entrepreneurs and possess a capacity to innovate to reach their ambitions, which benefits entire communities,” says Marc Steen, MOCA’s chief of party.
In November 2020, MOCA and PH&F joined forces to demonstrate the feasibility of West African-owned cocoa processing businesses, like Zigro’s SOCOPLAN cooperative, and bolster their work to respond to local and pan-African demand for cocoa products made in Africa.
“I am so impressed at Mr. Zigro’s can-do, optimistic attitude. It’s thanks to him, the villagers of Depa, and MOCA that this project is really beginning to bear fruit.” added Tom Neuhaus, president of PH&F.
As part of the partnership, MOCA awarded a grant of $25,000 to SOCOPLAN, which corresponds to the amount of the counterpart of the SOCOPLAN cooperative disbursed with the support of PH&F. Additionally, to strengthen SOCOPLAN’s processing facilities, MOCA will procure processing equipment, and provide advice to the cooperative’s leaders. PH&F will construct much needed infrastructure to provide a cocoa mixer and obtain the required Ministry of Health certificates.
PH&F’s contribution includes the marketing of the products in France and in the United States, and the purchase of equipment for the fabrication of chocolate. In 2020, PH&F purchased a mixer for SOCOPLAN.
MOCA and PH&F will continue to partner through 2021, supporting SOCOPLAN’s to increase the value of their cocoa and the quality of their chocolate for national and international markets.
About CNFA: Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA) is an international agricultural development organization that specializes in the design and implementation of sustainable, enterprise-based agricultural initiatives. We work with businesses, foundations, governments, and communities to build customized local and global partnerships that meet the world’s growing demand for food. Since our inception in 1985, we have designed and implemented enterprise-based, agricultural development initiatives to facilitate market access, enhance agribusiness competitiveness, increase productivity, and improve access to inputs and financing in 47 countries around the world.