Cargill has sketched out five sustainability objectives it will pursue over the next 13 years through the Cargill Cocoa Promise, the company’s five-year-old cocoa sustainability program.
Building on a decades-long focus on sustainability, the Cargill Cocoa Promise has so far supported more than 145,000 farmers worldwide with market access, training and resources, while working with almost 500 farmer organizations and cooperatives. The Cargill Cocoa Promise continues to evolve with the establishment of a future pathway aligned with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
"Supporting smallholder farmers to build more resilient and sustainable businesses has been at the core of our own cocoa and chocolate business ethos for over two decades," said Harold Poelma, Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate president. "But the challenges smallholder farmers face have changed — and our strategy has evolved accordingly. Using the learnings and insights gathered over the years, we have charted a course for the future impact of the Cargill Cocoa Promise."
Areas emphasized in Cargill’s recent progress report include direct sourcing, limiting deforestation, improving traceability and building up the socioeconomic resilience of farmers and their wider communities. 
Cargill sources 85 percent of its sustainable cocoa directly from farmers through farmer organizations and cooperatives. Working with farmer groups enables Cargill to strengthen these organizations' own internal capabilities, supporting them to become more efficient, profitable and self-sustaining. For instance, in 2016-17, farmers in Cote d'Ivoire who implemented good farming practices learned through one-on-one coaching saw their yields increase 49 percent on average.
Creating a self-sustaining ripple effect is also the aim of broader community activities, particularly in the area of income diversification, which can help build economic resilience in the face of fluctuating conditions. For instance, through ongoing global partnership with humanitarian organization CARE, Cargill has introduced more than 175 village savings and loans programs through Village Savings and Loan Associations in Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire. This has helped more than 4,000 people — half of whom are women — obtain small loans to start their own businesses.
Cargill is also working to eliminate all forms of child labor in the cocoa supply chain and ensure children have a bright future. So far, more than 145,000 farmers have been trained to understand forms of child labor, and 20,000 children have been provided with access to education and healthcare.
Technology is proving an invaluable tool in driving progress, particularly around product traceability. Across the globe, GPS-mapping of more than 56,000 farms is boosting provenance information and informing farm development planning. Meanwhile in Ghana, 25,000 farmers have signed onto a program that allows Cargill to tag and track each bag of cocoa beans the company buys back to the farmer. At the point of delivery, farmers are immediately paid via mobile money accounts.
New innovations play a vital role in protecting the planet and the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. Using GPS technology, Cargill conducted a risk assessment of 2.3 million hectares of forest to evaluate habitat type and tree cover loss, as part of its global efforts to eliminate deforestation across agricultural supply chains by 2030. The results serve as a baseline to prioritize interventions and advance sustainable landscape approaches. 
Building on evidence and experience from the past two decades, Cargill is expanding its commitment to SDG with five 2030 Goals in the following areas: 
  • Farmer Livelihoods: Cargill will champion professional cocoa farming practices to strengthen the socioeconomic resilience of one million cocoa farmers and their communities. 
  • Community Wellbeing: Cargill will enhance the safety and wellbeing of children and families in cocoa farming areas by eliminating child labor in its supply chain and giving one million families access to basic services. 
  • Protecting Our Planet: Cargill will promote environmental best practices across its supply chain, working towards zero deforestation. 
  • Consumer Confidence: Cargill will help consumers around the world choose sustainable cocoa and chocolate products with confidence, by ensuring 100 percent farmer-to-plant cocoa bean traceability and 100 percent chocolate ingredients sourced in line with our sustainability code of conduct. 
  • Transformation, Together: Cargill will use the power of partnerships to accelerate and magnify its efforts to achieve a level of sector transformation that cannot be accomplished alone.  
The 2030 Goals will allow Cargill to think globally and act locally, using the framework of the SDG to meet the direct needs of people in cocoa communities in a transparent, credible and measurable way.
"Achieving the SDGs demands a common approach, making use of new innovations and working with partners across the sector to achieve our common ambition of a more sustainable cocoa sector overall,” said Taco Terheijden, Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate's director of sustainability. “We believe our global goals will help accelerate this sector-wide shift, to the benefit of all stakeholders involved.”