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Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshot

How Cargill's Sustainable Cocoa Program Benefits Ivory Coast Farmers

Child slavery is all too common in the West Africa coca industry. One West African country in particular, the Ivory Coast, accounts for 70 percent of the world's cocoa supply.

A Tulane University report found that 25 to 50 percent of all Ivory Coast households work on cocoa farms. Paying farmers more for their cocoa means they are less likely to turn to forced child labor. Cargill understands this, as is evidenced by its sustainable cocoa program.

During the 2011/2012 crop year, over 26,000 Ivory Coast cocoa farmers in 43 UTZ and Rainforest Alliance certified cooperatives received $7.6 million worth of Cargill's sustainable cocoa premium payments. Cargill's annual premium payments recognize cocoa farmers who increase yields and improve bean quality. The premium payments this year alone increased cocoa farmers' direct revenues by 17 percent on average. Over the last three years, the premium payments totaled over $12.2 million.

Cargill invests over $3 million a year to finance, train and support Ivory Coast cocoa farmers. A total of 90 cooperatives participate in Cargill's sustainable cocoa program, and 87 of them are certified. Cargill's goal is to source 20 percent of its cocoa supply from certified sources by 2015. Cargill is on target to meet its goal of sourcing over 100,000 tons of certified cocoa from the Ivory Coast by 2015.

"By participating in Cargill's farmer training, I was given the unique opportunity to learn how to best manage and maintain my cocoa farm," said farmer Yao N'Dri Pascal, a member of the ECASO cooperative which participates in Cargill's program. "Certification premiums have helped boost my income and also supported community projects led by the cooperative."

How participating in Cargill's program benefits the ECASO

The ECASO cooperative is based in the Soubre region of the Ivory Coast. It joined Cargill's sustainable cocoa program in 2008, and since then its membership has grown from about 400 to over 1,170. Over 670 ECASO members participate in Cargill's Farmer Field School training program and received certification. The training program is a 10-month program over a four-year period that a case study describes as "intensive." Another 1,350 farmers are expected to complete training in it by the end of 2013.

ECASO has received over $750,000 in premium payments since 2009. Over 50 percent of the premium payments go directly to the farmers, and the rest is invested by the cooperatives to help members and build local community facilities. During the past three years, ECASO invested the extra income in the following local community projects:

  • Building a three-classroom school

  • Renovating three schools

  • Building a farmer store that sells agrochemicals, food and other supplies

Image credit: Cargill
Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshotGina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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