More cocoa talks in Amsterdam as Chocoa raises the bar for chocolate sustainability

On day one (Thursday, 8 February), the meetings proved more intimate, nuanced, and focussed after the WCF scoped out many of the wider issues during its two-day partnership meeting. The two gatherings came together under the auspices of Amsterdam Cocoa Week. Usually, the two are months apart in the calendar, but the organisers were clearly happy with the format as both events attracted near-sell-out registrations.

At the Amsterdam Sustainable Cocoa Conference, there were familiar faces from earlier in the week and a fresh influx of speakers and attendees that gave the event fresh impetus. Michel Arrion, executive director of the ICCO, provided continuity by hosting the second of the farmer income trilogy talks. The first was held on Monday at the WCF meeting – and the third will be held at the World Cocoa Conference in Brussels in April.

Cash transfers

Thursday’s talk was about how different types of cash transfers can increase incomes and facilitate investments in sustainable livelihoods and looked at the latest insights from ongoing pilots such as the Nestlé Income Accelerator initiative, already covered by this publication in January​.

Cash transfers are different from higher prices or premiums as they are delinked from cocoa production, Arrion explained, but should the sector promote them? The key takeaway was that, yes, cash transfers bring their own value and help reduce farmer poverty, but they should be seen as complementary income to what the farmer draws for his beans.

100WEEKS founder, and CEO, Jeroen de Lange, said that unconditional cash transfers can support women to become entrepreneurs in their own right when linked to training. There is also an argument that they encourage savings, reduce food insecurity and the payments are made to men and women separately via mobile banking technology.