Lutheran World Relief has announced a five-year, $36.4 million public-private partnership aimed at strengthening the coffee and cocoa sectors in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Peru.
Funded primarily by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Maximizing Opportunities in Coffee and Cacao in the Americas (MOCCA) initiative will work to increase crops yields, improve cocoa quality, enhance the professional capacity of both farmers and producer organizations, and facilitate links between cocoa buyers and sellers in the region, with the goal of improving the livelihoods of more than a hundred and twenty thousand farmers.
To that end, LWR will partner with Bioversity International and the Global Network for Cacao Genetic Resources to support the maintenance of and facilitate access to national and international collections of cacao germplasm banks, which store genetic material that can be used to preserve and enhance cocoa varieties. In addition, the project will link farmers to higher-value markets, helping them boost their profits, which can then be reinvested in their farms.
"Investing in cocoa production and linking to expanded markets is an effective means of increasing income and moving poor rural communities to greater self-sufficiency," said LWR president and CEO Daniel Speckhard. "We are excited to be a part of the MOCCA initiative and to work with these partners who are recognized and effective leaders in their fields."