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NORTHFIELD, Ill. - Kraft Foods here is among the companies working on a new project launched by the Rainforest Alliance to help farmers in Cote d'Ivoire, the world's largest producer of cocoa, meet the conservation organization's standards for eco-friendly and socially responsible cocoa farming.
The Rainforest Alliance and its partners will provide guidance and technical assistance to about 4,000 farmers in six cooperatives in Cote d'Ivoire over three years to encourage sustainable cocoa production. Farmers will work toward achieving Rainforest Alliance certification by meeting comprehensive environmental and social standards that include conserving natural resources, protecting the welfare of workers, and putting into place more efficient management practices. The first deliveries of Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa from Cote d'Ivoire are expected in 2007.
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"Kraft has a keen interest in improving the social, economic, and environmental conditions on cocoa farms in Cote d'Ivoire," said Jonathan Atwood, director of commodity sustainability programs at Kraft, in a statement. "The project goals are ambitious, but we are confident we can help make a positive difference for cocoa farmers and their families."
The Rainforest Alliance is teaming up with U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Kraft Foods, the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ, for its name in German), and a cocoa trader in Cote d'Ivoire called the Armajaro Group. The partners in the project coalition are investing nearly $2 million to benefit the cocoa farmers, guiding them toward self-sufficiency and sustainability.
Cote d'Ivoire produces about 40 percent of the world's cocoa, more than any other country. The country is facing the aftermath of a civil war, with land disputes ongoing and foreign mediators overseeing a peace plan. Cocoa farmers face a host of additional constraints including poor soils, aging cocoa trees, inefficient management practices, low productivity, and lack of marketing information.
The project aims to show cocoa farmers that sustainable practices can improve their productivity and their livelihoods while protecting the environment.