Cargill plans to expand its training activities and distribute 600,000 cocoa tree seedlings to support farmers in Côte d'Ivoire as part of a new memorandum of understanding.
Specifically, Cargill will invest $3.25 million to develop and expand its farmer training program and support activities to enable cooperatives to obtain independent UTZ and Rain Forest Alliance certification.
This move includes a partnership with ANADER, Cote d'Ivoire's national rural development agency, to support farmer training activities and the distribution of 600,000 cocoa tree seedlings to participating cooperatives to help improve and renew existing cocoa farms.
The agreement with ANADER was signed at a ceremony in Abidjan by the Minister of Agriculture for Cote d'Ivoire, Mamadou Sangafowa Coulibal, and Greg Page, Cargill’s chairman and chief executive officer.
"Cote d'Ivoire remains one of the foremost producers of cocoa in the world, and this agreement strengthens our ongoing commitment to help improve the farming practices and the livelihoods of Ivorian cocoa farmers, as well as support the development of the country's cocoa sector," says Page.
The company has been training Ivorian cocoa farmers for more than 10 years and today helps tens of thousands of farmers increase yields, improve quality and adopt more sustainable practices. In 2011/2012 it will train more than 60,000 farmers across 90 cooperatives in Cote d'Ivoire at 1,100 farmer field schools. This training already has enabled 44 farmer cooperatives to achieve independent UTZ certification and the figure is expected to double to 90 certified cooperatives by October 2012.
The intensive 10-month program for cooperatives and their members focuses on farming techniques and post-harvest activities such as pruning, plantation renewal and cocoa fermentation methods. It also stresses broader social aspects, such as the importance of ensuring children's education and HIV awareness.
In crop year 2011/12 Cargill plans to purchase 50,000 tonnes of certified cocoa, which will represent cocoa premium payments totalling more than $9 million. More than 50% of these payments go directly to farmers, while the remainder are invested by the cooperatives to provide assistance to members and to build local community facilities.
Cargill continues to work closely with cooperatives to reach its target of 100,000 tonnes of certified sustainable cocoa beans from Cote d'Ivoire by 2015.
Additionally, through its partnerships with CARE and the IECD, Cargill is improving access to healthcare, drinking water and renovating schools in 10 communities in San Pedro and Daloa. It has also renovated more than 40 schools to provide education and practical farming skills to help young people improve their employment prospects.
"Successful cocoa-growing communities are important both for the development of the Ivorian economy and for our own business,” says Lionel Soulard, managing director West Africa, Cargill Cocoa and Chocolate. “We want to continue to provide support and assistance, where we can, to help improve the quality, yields and incomes of farmers so that cocoa farming can continue to thrive in the country for many generations to come."