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Professionalizing cocoa farming organizations through the Cargill Coop Academy

May 11, 2016

The vast majority of the world’s cocoa – about 95% – comes from smallholder cocoa farmers working on less than three hectares of land. There may be as many as three million smallholder cocoa farmers globally and Cargill sources from more than 400,000. We see more and more proof that the most effective way to positively impact this vast number of farmers is through (empowered) farmer organizations.

The vital role of farmer organizations

Farmer organizations are professional, local groups that can help their members to farm more profitably, productively and sustainably.

“When smallholders participate in well-run farmer organizations, they have a chance to share knowledge, access finance and develop long-term commercial relationships,” said Taco Terheijden, Cocoa Sustainability Director at Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate, at a recent Innovation Forum conference on sustainability for smallholders. “This allows them to grow their scale and join ‘a winning team’.”

Raising standards through rigorous business training

CCC - Coop AcademyCargill currently supports 181 farmer organizations in West Africa through the Cargill Cocoa Promise. Those organizations represent more than 90,000 farmers and professionalizing them is a key priority. In line with this, we have developed the Cargill Coop Academy.

Launched in 2013 in Côte d’Ivoire, the Coop Academy teaches business skills to farmer organization executives. Participants undergo 28 days of intensive classroom learning, followed by a full year of personalized on-the-ground coaching.

The Coop Academy has been developed in partnership with the sustainable trade initiative (IDH), TechnoServe, and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

Bringing successful projects to scale

Following the success in Côte d’Ivoire, where around 320 executives from 80 organizations have now taken part, we are using our global reach to bring the Coop Academy to scale, expanding into new geographies.

In March 2016, the program launched in Cameroon. Over four years, we aim to reach almost 900 participants from 227 farmer organizations, in turn reaching over 50,000 farmers.

The Coop Academy in Cameroon will build on the lessons from Côte d’Ivoire as well as being tailored to the specific needs of the country. Farmer organizations are just restarting in Cameroon and academy training will offer support from the beginning.

Creating a sustainable, self-sufficient sector

Our ultimate vision through initiatives like the Coop Academy is for farmer organizations to operate self-sufficiently. “Only when farmers and farmer organizations take their destiny into their own hands will we have a truly sustainable cocoa sector”, says Lionel Soulard, Managing Director for Cargill’s cocoa business in West Africa. “This is the way for a thriving cocoa sector for generations to come.”

Find out more by reading the latest update of our Cargill Cocoa Promise or, for more information, contact your Sales Manager.