Cargill Announces $5 Million Commitment to Support Sustainable Cocoa in West Africa
MINNEAPOLIS, Sept. 9 /PRNewswire/ – Cargill has announced a three-year $5 million commitment to support sustainable cocoa in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. This includes a partnership with CARE to sponsor a new program of activities to improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers and their families in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.
The partnership with CARE will improve access to education and basic services, promote better agricultural practices and help address the worst forms of child labor in cocoa growing communities. Cargill’s commitment also will expand its Farmer Field Schools program. This program is currently training over 10,000 farmers and will expand to support tens of thousands of more farmers over the coming years. This training is directly helping farmers increase yields, improve quality and increase their incomes, as well as enabling them to gain independent certification, such as UTZ Certified.
“This commitment underlines our belief that supporting communities and training farmers is key to ensuring cocoa is produced sustainably, to increasing farmers’ incomes and to improving the livelihoods of farmers and their families in West Africa,” said Jos de Loor, managing director of Cargill’s cocoa and chocolate business.
The CARE program will expand on activities already underway in 70 cocoa growing communities to reach a total of 130 communities in the Ashanti, Brong Ahafo and Central regions of Ghana. Additionally, activities will be initiated in 10 communities in the San Pedro and Daloa regions of Cote d’Ivoire. In total, it is estimated the program will help improve educational opportunities for at least 60,000 children, as well as improving the livelihoods of cocoa growing families within these rural communities.
“With Cargill’s generous support, thousands of farmers and their families will receive the tools and training necessary to improve agricultural practices to ensure that cocoa is produced in the most sustainable way,” said Steve Hollingworth, chief operating officer and executive vice president at CARE.
Since Cargill started operating in Cote d’Ivoire in 1998 it has been supporting the development of cocoa farming in the region. Cargill’s Farmer Field Schools focus on farming techniques and post-harvest activities such as pruning, farm renewal and cocoa fermentation methods, as well as stressing the importance of school attendance for children and HIV awareness.
As a result of training, farmers are benefitting on average from a 30 percent increase in their incomes from higher yields, as well as an improvement in the quality of their crop for which they also receive a quality-related bonus payment from Cargill. The training is enabling farmer cooperatives to achieve UTZ Certification, which is supporting small-scale farmers to improve agricultural, environmental and social practices in cocoa production. By the end of this year more than 10,000 tonnes of independently certified UTZ cocoa beans will be processed by Cargill into high-quality cocoa and chocolate products for use by food manufacturers in their branded products.
“Our approach to cocoa sustainability recognizes the importance of supporting communities today, as well as assisting their future growth and development,” continued Jos de Loor. “By focusing our support in local communities we are helping improve the livelihoods of farming families and increasing opportunities for children to receive an education.”
In addition to these activities, Cargill also provides financial support for other programs in the cocoa sector. This includes supporting the International Cocoa Initiative’s (ICI) efforts to prevent and eliminate forced and abusive child labor, as well as joining other companies in the sector to partner with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support The Cocoa Livelihoods Program, which is a five-year effort to improve the livelihoods of 200,000 cocoa farmers in West Africa. It also continues to support programs in other major cocoa growing regions around the world.
Cargill is an international producer and marketer of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services. Founded in 1865, the privately held company employs 131,000 people in 66 countries.
Cargill helps customers succeed through collaboration and innovation, and is committed to sharing its global knowledge and experience to help meet economic, environmental and social challenges wherever it does business.
For more information, visit http://www.cargill.com
CARE fights root causes of poverty in the world’s poorest communities. CARE places special focus on working alongside poor women because, equipped with the proper resources, women have the power to help whole families and entire communities escape poverty. In 72 countries, women are at the heart of CARE’s community-based efforts to improve education, health and economic opportunity. Last year, CARE and our partners helped more than 59 million people effect real, positive changes in their lives.
For more information, go to: www.care.org