A panel highlighting the launch of a Lutheran World Relief initiative designed to assist small-scale cocoa and coffee farmers in Latin America is set for the Fine Chocolate Industry Association’s (FCIA) “Elevate Chocolate” event next month.

The panel, moderated by Lutheran World Relief’s (LWR) Carolina Aguilar, will discuss the cocoa component of the MOCCA initiative, a five-year, $36.4 million partnership designed to strengthen the cocoa sectors in Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru.

Panelists include FCIA CEO Bill Guyton; Brigitte La Liberte, a scientist with Biodiversity International; and Darin Sukha, a research fellow at the Cocoa Research Centre.

Funded by the USDA’s Food for Progress Program and implemented with principal partner TechnoServe, the MOCCA initiative will directly improve the livelihoods of over 120,000 farmers.

“MOCCA will facilitate partnerships with local, regional and international markets, increasing farmer income and cacao-growing communities to reach greater sustainability,” says Aguilar, who serves as cocoa director for the MOCCA project.

The cacao component of the program will provide farmers with training, build buyer-seller relationships, facilitate access to finance, provide support to local trade associations and platforms and spur investments in research.  

Lutheran World Relief will work closely with the FCIA, whose 360 members focus on the production of premium chocolate and encourage utilizing best practices in cocoa production and processing. Other partners include Bioversity International, Rikolto, CATIE, and CRC.   

"We are excited to partner with the new MOCCA program in Latin America, which will help improve farmer livelihoods and strengthen supply chain linkages with fine chocolate makers and chocolatiers,” Guyton said.

FCIA’s “Elevate Chocolate” event is set for June 22 at the  InterContinental New York Times Square in New York City.