I have always found each of the steps involved—from beans on a small farm to someone enjoying a chocolate bar somewhere else in the world—deeply inspiring. If I had to choose a career all over again, I'd still choose cocoa.

Now is an especially exciting time, as we are launching the Cocoa Life program in Indonesia! This launch represents almost two years of planning. As it is for the Asian elephant (which gestates for about that same period of time)—birth is a welcome relief and cause for communal celebration.

Indonesia is the third largest cocoa-producing country in the world, after Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana, and therefore is an essential part of the world's cocoa supply. Over the next five years, the benefits of the Cocoa Life program will reach 50,000 Indonesian farmers (including 10,000 in Papua Province, which is 40% of the total farmers there.)

Cocoa Life, with its five areas of focus, is the broadest program of its kind. It doesn't simply focus on farming, but rather it encompasses farmers' entire lives through the Community Action Plan process and includes: their community, their livelihood, their youth and the environment.

On a recent trip to Papua, which is the first place we will be implementing the Cocoa Life program in Indonesia, I had the opportunity to meet with many farmers and hear their concerns. I'd like to share some of the areas where we'll be focusing our attention:


In Papua, many follow the antiquated farming practices of their elders. Cocoa Life will allow us to teach farmers how to double their yield and to vastly improve the quality of their cocoa by using advanced planting techniques, agricultural practices, and planting materials, plus good business practices. Our goals are higher cocoa production and better incomes for farmers.


Children in Indonesia attend school for nine years. But when they finish, many don't see a future in growing cocoa. We will work to show the youth of current and future farmers that growing cocoa can be a good way to earn one’s living.


When I was recently meeting with cocoa farmers and their communities in Papua, only the three women with roles in their community attended the meetings: One was a teacher, one was the wife of the head of the village, and the last was a woman who collects money from other women as a sort of family savings program.

Most women in the cocoa communities of Papua are not empowered, but we know that communities get stronger when women get involved in leadership positions. We will be encouraging more women to attend training sessions and meetings, and we will partner with men so they understand how important it is to the future of cocoa farming that women play key roles.

Finally, we have Cocoa Life in Indonesia.

Still, like the 630-day gestation of the Asian elephant, growth cannot be rushed. It is not easy. It will take time. Changing the mindset of farmers who have done things a certain way for ages requires patience. When I'm on a cocoa farm, I notice that I'm much more patient than when I'm in the city. Maybe it's because I have a passion for cocoa farmers—and seeing the cocoa trees makes me remember the many actions it takes from a cocoa farm through the supply chain to produce a piece of chocolate.

Change is a journey made up of many steps, but the first step is always a meaningful one.

And this is where we find ourselves today.