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Media Contact: Emily Sollie, 410-230-2802, 443-220-3269 cell, esollie@lwr.org

Lutheran World Relief Releases Toolkit for Small-Scale Cocoa Farmers in Latin America

Baltimore, June 27, 2013 — Lutheran World Relief (LWR) has released a new resource for small-scale cocoa farmers and their cooperatives in Latin America entitled Learning and Innovation in the Sustainable Management of Cocoa in Agro-Forestry Systems. The toolkit includes practical guides covering topics such as plant maintenance, post-harvest processing, fermentation and drying, as well as organic and sustainably-sourced certification and marketing to help farmers secure higher prices for their products. The toolkit also features calendars for plantation management and guidance for soil and climate assessment, which are integrated into self-guided learning modules. The toolkit fills a gap in resources for famers who are learning about cocoa production and often working without technical support.

Carolina Aguilar, LWR´s country director for Nicaragua, explains, “The toolkit is one way LWR promotes greater access to information for producers and supports cooperatives to grow stronger by offering better services to their members.”

Cocoa is one of the few cash crop alternatives for small-scale farmers in many parts of Central America. It can be grown on small plots of land, with little hired labor and produced under an agro-forestry system that protects farmers’ land and natural resources. With rising global demand for cocoa, LWR is providing farmers with the tools and skills, including the cocoa toolkit, necessary to improve production and increase earnings.

LWR will distribute the printed toolkit to 1,500 cocoa farmers in El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. More than half the toolkits will be distributed through the LWR’s Pathways to Prosperity in the Cocoa Value Chain project, aimed at increasing production and sales of high quality cocoa in local, regional and international markets. The project is supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES) as part of its Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas Initiative.

LWR currently has cocoa projects in Haiti, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Peru. The toolkit will be translated into Haitian Creole for use in Haiti´s cocoa sector.

Michael Watt, LWR´s regional director for Latin America, notes, “LWR’s work in cocoa in Central America will promote inclusive growth, prosperity and social justice by providing farmers and cooperatives with the information and tools they need to compete successfully in an international market, while also protecting resources critical to their livelihoods.”

Learning and Innovation in the Sustainable Management of Cocoa in Agro-Forestry Systems is available free of charge in its entirety at http://programs.lwr.org/cocoatoolkit. The toolkit is in Spanish.

About Lutheran World Relief (LWR):
Lutheran World Relief works to improve the lives of smallholder farmers and people experiencing poverty in Africa, Asia and Latin America, both in times of emergencies and for the long term. With the financial support of US Lutherans and other donors, LWR strengthens communities through programs in agriculture, climate, and emergency support. LWR works with partners, supporters and technical assistance providers to achieve lasting results. For more information, visit lwr.org.

Lutheran World Relief is a ministry of U.S. Lutherans, serving communities living in poverty overseas.

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