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October 28, 2007

12th Cocoa Sustainability meeting held in Washington, DC

More than 220 Delegates from 23 countries participated in the 12th Cocoa Sustainability Partnership Meeting on October 24-25, hosted by the World Cocoa Foundation in Washington, DC. The meeting's theme "Sustainable Cocoa Farming: Building Tomorrow' Best Practices Today" was addressed by key representatives from cocoa producing countries, the chocolate industry, non-government organizations and development and research agencies.

During the opening session, Dr. Sarah E. Moten of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Africa Education Initiative commended the chocolate industry for engaging in educational initiatives to support the next generation of farmers in West Africa. She also challenged broader engagement and a long term commitment among chocolate companies and their partners to rural education.

Leaders from the Ivory Coast, Ghana and Indonesia outlined their countries' national plans to promote sustainable cocoa production. Delegates participated in workshops to identify and bring together "best practices" in farmer organizational support, farmer training and environmental stewardship.

In addition, several leading NGOs described programs underway in cocoa and other industries to measure program impact and promote better farming practices.

Among the challenges facing cocoa farmers: disease and pest issues that destroy a third of the crop each year. At the meeting, leading researchers discussed how to help farmers with these challenges, in part by providing access to low-cost technologies.

"Certification" for cocoa farming was another key topic at the conference. Representatives from the governments of Ghana and the Ivory Coast joined industry representatives to provide an update on this unprecedented effort, one that will drive change in labor practices and other, related areas.

The final panel discussion focused on the outlook for the cocoa market and recent consumer trends and expectations for chocolate.

The next World Cocoa Foundation Partnership Meeting will be hold in Ecuador in May 20-22, 2008.

Established in 2000, the World Cocoa Foundation plays a leading role in facilitating public-private partnerships to benefit cocoa farming communities through training programs and research.WCF is an industry-supported, non-profit organization representing over 60 chocolate companies and trade associations around the world that account for over 65% of chocolate manufactured. Members are from Europe, North America, Latin America, and Asia representing all components of the supply chain. Dedicated to the social and economicwellbeing of cocoa farmers in West Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America, the Foundation programs focus on raising farmer incomes, improving communitywellbeing and supporting environmental sustainability.

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