Cargill joins with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to launch $40 million program to help cocoa farmers in West Africa.
February 2009 – Cargill has joined other leading cocoa and chocolate industry companies to partner with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers in West Africa.
The West Africa Cocoa Livelihoods Program is a five-year, $40 million effort to help approximately 200,000 farmers in Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Liberia. In addition to $23 million in funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, more than $17 million cash and in-kind support is being provided by private sector companies. This includes a significant cash and in-kind contribution from Cargill.
- Read the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation press release.
Helping increase farmers’ incomes
Cocoa is West Africa’s largest agricultural export, accounting for 70 percent of the world’s supply. Approximately two million West African smallholder farmers and their families rely on cocoa for a significant portion of their income. This program will help farmers improve the quality and quantity of their crops and increase their incomes so they can build better lives for themselves and their families.
The five-year project aims to double farmers’ incomes by 2013 and will provide training and support to improve farmers’ knowledge and productivity, better cocoa quality, and develop supply chain efficiencies. It will also improve farmers’ access to market information and help them diversity into alternative food and cash crops to maximize their incomes.
The World Cocoa Foundation will manage the program on behalf of the cocoa industry participants. On-the-ground activities will be carried out by leading non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with these expected to begin in late 2009 and early 2010.
Building on Cargill’s existing commitments to support cocoa farming
Cargill’s involvement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will help strengthen and expand our existing efforts to support cocoa farming communities in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana.
Our initiatives are already helping farmers increase their incomes, improving agricultural working practices, providing essential financial and logistical assistance, and giving support to cocoa communities. To name a few:
- In 2008 our diverse training programs reached more than 17,000 farmers in West Africa.
- In Côte d’Ivoire we purchase 50 percent of our cocoa beans from cooperatives and have supported the establishment of 54 farmer field schools — in partnership with the national rural development agency — to teach better agricultural practices. The training has resulted in higher yields and improved bean quality that has increased farmers’ incomes by 40 percent.