Lutheran World Relief is partnering with the U.S. Agency for International Development in convening the Second Central American Regional Cocoa Forum, to be held on August 10 and 11 in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
The cocoa forum will bring together 250 farmers and agricultural cooperatives, industry experts, research institutes and chocolate makers from Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and beyond.
Cocoa is becoming an increasingly important cash crop in Central America, and the region is attracting the notice of fine chocolate buyers and makers around the world. Cocoa, which is native to the Americas, has been cultivated by generations of farmers in the region and their product is excellent. Scientific development and agricultural practice has generated cocoa varieties that are considered among the best in the world.
Still, challenges remain. Even though there is great potential, the cocoa producers in the region are facing technical and commercial hurdles in reaching bigger markets. They need greater involvement from chocolate companies to achieve a sustainable cocoa supply chain.
LWR’s Javier Wilson told El Nuevo Diaro, a national newspaper in Nicaragua, that a highlight of the conference will a focus on information technology tools that are advancing the production of cocoa. One such innovation is LWR’s Mobile Cocoa mobile phone application, which make vital information on cocoa production available to a new generation of farmers.
“These are digital tools to support the cocoa producers that are easy to use,” he told El Nuevo Diario. “The Mobile Cocoa app turns ten guides on production, planting, irrigation and marketing to a digital version so that they are readable on a cell phone, a tablet or a computer, with or without internet access. It is a way to go beyond the printed guides.”