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Mondelez to invest $400 in cocoa farming communities

Company starts Cocoa Life, take holistic approach

mondelezThe world’s largest chocolate company has announced plans to invest $400 million in cocoa farming communities.

Mondelez International (formerly Kraft) says the money is part of a new Cocoa Life program, the company’s largest cocoa sustainability effort to date.

The money will fund more than just farmers looking to improve their yields though. It also is slated to help eliminate child labor, promote gender equality, market cocoa farming as an attractive profession, and even protect the eco systems where cocoa is grown.

Mondelez hopes to improve the lives of 200,000 cocoa farmers, and about one million people in the cocoa farming communities through the program. Among them will be Cote d’Ivorie — the world’s largest cocoa producing country — where a $100-million investment will help 75,000 farmers double their productivity.

The company already is working with third party experts such the United Nations Development Program, World Wildlife Fund and Anti-Slavery International to develop a set of principles and measure progress. And, Mondelez plans to collaborate with governments, civil society and suppliers to accomplish its goals.

"At the heart of Cocoa Life is our belief in improving the lives of cocoa farmers," says Bharat Puri, senior v.p. of global chocolate for Mondelez.  "We're investing in much more than farming – it's about empowering cocoa communities as a whole so cocoa farming villages become places where people want to live."

Cocoa Life is based on Mondelez International's successful Cadbury Cocoa Partnership in Ghana, India and the Dominican Republic.   

In Ghana, the Partnership has helped create a 20% increase in cocoa yields, a 200% increase in household incomes, and an 80% increase in government-backed development projects in the first phases of the project between 2009-2011.  

The company continues to expand its reach to more communities in Ghana and extended the partnership to the Dominican Republic in 2011.  And in India, the company has been working directly with cocoa farmers for 50 years. 

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