Hershey / PA. (thc) The Hershey Company announced an innovative program to increase the incomes of 20’000 farmers in Nigeria by training them to grow certified cocoa that Hershey will use in its products around the world.
The «Hershey Learn to Grow» program originated in Ghana in 2012 and will be expanded in Nigeria through a public and private partnership with IDH (The Sustainable Trade Initiative) and Source Trust. In Nigeria, Hershey and its partners will provide 20’000 cocoa farmers with advanced training in order to improve the quality of their cocoa, while doubling productivity and increasing farmer income by 30 percent. Hershey Learn to Grow Nigeria will also focus on business and finance training for farmers so they are able to access credit to improve their farms.
Hershey is committed to using 100 percent certified cocoa in its products worldwide by 2020. Hershey´s percentage of certified cocoa will surpass ten percent this year and increase to between 40 and 50 percent by 2016.
Hershey Learn to Grow Nigeria will employ computerized tracking of cocoa through the entire supply chain. This will provide farmers with precise information about the size of their farms, age of cocoa trees and ability to use fertilizers to increase production. Hershey Learn to Grow Nigeria will also place an emphasis on improving cocoa communities through water and power provision, malaria prevention and education programs.
«We believe cocoa farming in Nigeria will benefit greatly from modernization programs that help increase incomes, improve communities, reduce child labor and assure long-term supply», said Terry O´Day, Hershey Senior Vice President, Chief Supply Chain Officer.
«Hershey is driving rapid improvement in cocoa farming in West Africa through technologies that are popular with farmers, such as satellite farm mapping, model demonstration farms and mobile phone training in the CocoaLink program. We are pleased to be working with IDH on a program that squarely focuses on the needs of Nigerian cocoa farmers and their families».
A Farmer´s Perspective
Stephen Andoh lives in the Assin Fosu area and has now been farming cocoa for the last 13 years. He previously cultivated citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons but took up cocoa farming when he noticed it produced a better income. Andoh explained why he is part of Hershey Learn to Grow in Ghana:
«I was chosen to become a demonstration farmer because of how my farm is organized; the cocoa trees have good spacing, there is also a good amount of shade trees and the farm is also very clean. I was also chosen because I conduct regular pruning, I apply fertilizer and my trees have no diseases».
«I take the advice that my field supervisor gives me very seriously, and I now conduct more pruning as well as store chemicals better. I have had more cocoa come since I became a demonstration farmer but I will not be able to tell properly until next season».
Funded by the Dutch and Swiss Government, IDH works with companies to combat poverty and protect the environment.
«We are very pleased and proud to partner with Hershey and Source Trust in this ambitious program that aims to strengthen the entrepreneurial skills of cocoa farmers in Nigeria by boosting their productivity», said Jonas Mva Mva, Senior Program Manager Cocoa at IDH. «This project will create impact at scale and can serve as a model for cocoa development in Nigeria».
Hershey Learn to Grow Ghana is helping more than 1’000 farm families and 5’000 cocoa community members improve their livelihoods by learning the latest in modern farming techniques and agricultural stewardship, including appropriate and inappropriate uses of labor.
Hershey Learn to Grow Nigeria is part of a broad range of programs and initiatives that comprise Hershey´s 21st Century CocoaSustainability Plan, which is the Company´s roadmap helping cocoa communities around the world grow sustainable cocoa for the next century.