Since January, Akvo has been working closely with a US based team at Mars Inc., to help introduce Akvo RSR as the online platform that allows Mars employees to support cocoa farmers. Mars has committed itself to use only certified, sustainable cocoa in all its products by 2020 and, as one of the largest cocoa producing countries, Ivory Coast is the place where this needs to become reality. A key way this is being implemented locally is through its Vision for Change programme.

Above: Back side of Moctar Sangaré’s business card. Abidjan, Ivory Coast. 20 September 2012. Photo credit Kathelyne van den Berg.

Kathelyne and I arrived in Abidjan last Tuesday, and we’ve been busy presenting our tools and experiences – to work with Andrew, Manuel and Moctar from Mars, Claude from ICRAF and Rita, Cedric and Chloe from ECOM – to be able to bring around 100 farmer projects online, and design and plan a continuous feedback loop in 2013.

Here’s Claude Adjehi from ICRAF, explaining how he’ll be working to bring the projects to life online.

Kathelyne also did some short interviews with Moctar Sangaré and Manuel Salazar that give some background information.

Manuel is going to use Akvo FLOW over the next weeks to collect the initial project data, and he expects to present the initial results in the week of 22 October in New York. I’ll be present then as well – and we expect to be able to share more info. Mars has a significant opportunity to affect the industry as a whole – and it’s exciting to work together on this.

There’s more on the Mars Sustainable Cocoa Initative here.

Peter van der Linde is a co-founder and director at Akvo.