Cocoa is essential to the livelihoods of 40 to 50 million people worldwide, including more than 5 million smallholder cocoa farmers who grow this valuable crop. According to the World Cocoa Foundation, it has been an important ingredient in global cultures and history, evolving over the years, and continues to be enjoyed today in thousands of different forms.
The chocolate supply chain is characterized by global geographical boundaries. The agricultural production is based on smallholdings and intensive farming: according to the World Cocoa Foundation, 80 to 90 percent of cocoa production comes from small, familyrun farms, typically 2 to 4 hectares (5 to 10 acres). The production is located in tropical areas of Africa (73 percent of total production), Asia (13 percent of total production), and Americas (13 percent of total production). Once cocoa beans are harvested, fermented, and dried, they are exported to major chocolate producer countries located in the temperate band, like Europe and Northern America.
There is an immediate and urgent need to advance best practices and create social and economic stability for farmers’ communities. Climate change, access to the market, traceability, pests, deceases, and low productivity are just part of the challenges the cocoa system is facing right now. According to the World Economic Forum, there is an immediate need to promote “smarter agricultural growth,” leveraging sensor-generated data, offering unprecedented information, and supporting decisionmaking along with bridging the pricers-market gap.
Chocothon is a sustainable innovation initiative that aims to empower and connect cocoa farmers, creating new opportunities for them and other value chain stakeholders in cocoa production. It has been conceived and presented by the Google Food Lab, Future Food Institute, the Trade for Sustainable Development, and the Business School Lausanne. Its first event was held in January 2017 in Accra, Ghana.
This month, together with the World Cocoa Foundation, the World Bank, and Valrhona Chocolate, Chocothon is landing in Washington, D.C., with a two-day hackathon to collaborate on creating, prototyping, and birthing hardware and software tools which address some of the greatest challenges of cocoa farming.
The event will take place on October 23 and 24, 2017, at the Impact Hub DC. Teams will have the opportunity to present their solutions to the top cocoa companies, governments, and non-governmental organizations working on sustainable cocoa during the annual World Cocoa Foundation Partnership Meeting on October 25.