To meet growing demand and consumer expectations for cocoa, smallholder farmers are learning how to improve crop quality—and their incomes.
Fifteen years ago, the future for many African cocoa farmers seemed uncertain. They struggled with aging crops and had limited access to the training and financing needed to run successful farms.
And yet throughout this struggle, the world’s appetite for cocoa has only grown, rising steadily at a rate of 2 to 3% annually. In addition to this growing demand is consumer desire for sustainably sourced cocoa—an effect that is putting pressure on manufacturers to be transparent about how their products are produced.
“Our ambition is to accelerate progress toward a supply chain that is transparent, enables farmers to achieve better incomes and living standards, and delivers a sustainable supply of cocoa and chocolate products.”— Jos de Loor, President, Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate
In response to these difficulties, Cargill made a formal commitment to help smallholder cocoa farmers in Ghana, Cameroon, Indonesia, Brazil and Côte d’Ivoire. Building on its many years of experience working with farmer field schools and farmer communities in these countries, the company officially introduced the Cargill Cocoa Promise in 2012. The pledge aimed to improve the livelihoods of farmers, their families and their communities, and also secure a long-term, responsible supply of sustainable cocoa.
Together with the support of its partners and customers, Cargill has accomplished a great deal since it first started working with farmers in Côte d’Ivoire over 10 years ago. In Africa, the signs of progress are clear: Cargill’s network of over 2,550 Farmer Field Schools has been established, providing training in best agricultural practices to more than 115,000 smallholder farmers. The company’s program also supports hundreds of existing farmer organizations, granting them improved access to markets and infrastructure.
As education improves for cocoa farmers, it also improves for children in their communities. Over 34,000 children now have access to better education, thanks to Cargill’s support of new school-build activities, teacher training and improved resources such as textbooks.
On a global scale, more and more cocoa distributed across the world is sustainably certified—a model to aspire to for supply chains of all kinds.