Charles Yao Yao started his cocoa farm in Côte d'Ivoire at age 22. Production was not always good. Three years ago, Yao began attending Cargill's free Farmer Field Schools. He learned how to properly use pesticides and fertilizers and now understands why a sanitary harvest and good field maintenance are important. Since then, his yield per hectare (about 2.5 acres) has increased by more than 50 percent.
This is just one example of how Cargill is helping improve livelihoods for cocoa farmers and their families. We are a major originator and processor of cocoa beans. Farmers are our partners in a supply chain that converts cocoa beans to candy bars and other products for consumers. Their success is essential to our success.
That's why for more than a decade we've used our global knowledge and experience to help farmers improve quantity and quality of their cocoa, and ultimately the price they receive for it. Because poverty is linked to child labor, higher incomes mean fewer children working in the fields and more going to school.
We're training thousands of farmers in better agricultural practices in Côte d'Ivoire, Indonesia and Vietnam, while partnering with CARE to improve livelihoods in Ghana and Brazil. Our programs focus on environmental sustainability, as well as social issues such as the importance of education for children.
The training is coupled with transparent pricing information, support to strengthen farmers' cooperatives and assistance with crop transportation. The net result is growth that improves living standards and strengthens communities.
Cargill brings 150-years of knowledge and experience in the food and agricultural industry to our work in cocoa growing communities.
We leverage our strengths in supply chain management, commodity trading and customer relationships to tackle complex challenges in communities where we have a presence.
For instance, in the past few years inconsistent and poor quality crops threatened the growth and competitiveness of Indonesia's cocoa industry. Cargill responded by committing to give away 100,000 cocoa seedlings grown at a Cargill nursery to local farmers each season for the next decade, accompanied by farmer-training on such topics as tree maintenance and post-harvesting techniques.
Helping increase cocoa farmers' productivity can mean higher incomes and standards of living for them. Meanwhile, we gain more reliable partners and a more dependable supply of inputs for our processing facilities.
Training farmers helps build a sustainable supply chain, increases farmers' incomes and helps the cocoa industry grow.
Evaluation and Impact
Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana:
In 2010, we are doubling to 300 the number of Farmer Field Schools we operate in Côte d'Ivoire. This means we will train 10,000 farmers this year. Our 10-month long programs, held in the bush, focus on farming techniques and cocoa fermentation methods, while also addressing social issues.
As a result of the training, farmers have seen higher yields and improved crop quality with incomes ultimately rising an average of 30 percent.
We also paid the first UTZ Certifiedi cocoa premiums of more than $400,000 to two Côte d'Ivoire farmer cooperatives this May. Cargill founded the UTZ Certified program, along with Dutch development organization Solidaridad and others in the cocoa sector. The premiums are shared among the cooperatives and their 1,600 farmer-members. Yao Konan, General Secretary of the Fiédifoué Co-op, says: "Since we have been in the certification process we see real change when we visit the cocoa farms. Trees are healthier and farms cleaner; the farmers not certified can see the benefits of better farming practices and increased productivity, and now they too want to be enrolled."
We're also seeing measurable results from our partnership with CARE to improve livelihoods in West Africa. School attendance has increased 17.5 percent in 70 cocoa processing communities in Ghana, while cocoa production rates have risen 15 percent between the 2007 and 2008 cocoa seasons. "After I joined the group, my cocoa yield tripled since I'm using new practices I learned in training," says Mame Esi, a Katapea farmer who joined a cocoa association organized by CARE.
* UTZ means "good" in Mayan language. UTZ CERTIFIED is a worldwide certification program that sets the standard for responsible sourcing.
In 2008, Cargill launched its first distribution of 100,000 cocoa seedlings, grown at the Cargill Cocoa Education Center. Our goal is to give away 1 million trees to local farmers by 2018. The initiative builds on farmer-training efforts launched seven years ago aimed at improving the quality, and ultimately the price, small farmers get for their cocoa. The results are visible. More families now live in stone, rather than wooden houses. More children go to school, rather than help farm.
Cargill has been vital in developing a coalition, including the Vietnamese government, working to develop cocoa as a new crop. Since 2004, we've trained more than 10,000 farmers on best practices for cocoa growing, harvesting and new fermentation technologies. One of them is Nguyen Binh, who used to make a living as a potter. He now grows 600 cocoa trees in the Mekong Delta and processes pods from other farmers in his fermentery, which employs eight workers. Binh estimates his income has increased five-fold since he got into the cocoa business.
In partnership with CARE, we're working to ensure that more than 4,000 small, Brazilian farmers are included in the cocoa value chain. Until now, many of these farmers have been unable to obtain the credit necessary to run a small business. In response, we've helped establish a new community bank in the Serra Grande district, with the goal of 10,000 potential users. A second bank is also planned.