The Hershey Company says that, 18 months after launching its ‘Learn to Grow’ programme in Ghana, to help increase incomes and improve living standards for more than 1,400 cocoa farming families, the programme has delivered what it described as “significant results for farmers, families and the cocoa sector in the region.”
Hershey also announced that it is expanding the programme by launching Phase II, which extends it to all of Ghana’s cocoa-growing regions. This will increase the number of participating farmers from 1,465 to more than 21,000.
A highlight of the programme’s first results report is that all 1,465 participating farmers in the Assin Fosu region passed their first year UTZ audit and are now growing UTZ certified cocoa, adding additional third-party certified cocoa volume to the region’s cocoa supply. Hershey previously committed to using 100 per cent certified cocoa in its products by 2020.
In 2013, 18 per cent of the cocoa Hershey purchased globally was certified, nearly double its original goal of 10 percent for the year. The company plans to increase to between 40 and 50 percent by 2016 on its path to 100 percent by 2020.
“The programme has exceeded our expectations and shown how training, including business knowledge and good agricultural practices, can meaningfully change the lives of cocoa farmers, their families and their communities,” said Terence O’Day, Senior Vice President, Chief Supply Chain Officer at The Hershey Company.
“It has proved that we can substantially improve productivity, family incomes and labour practices while increasing cocoa quality. We are pleased to be working with our partner in Ghana, Source Trust, to expand Learn to Grow to 20,000 more farmers who will all benefit from the training that has proven so successful in Phase I.”
Learn to Grow farmers are also enrolling in the CocoaLink mobile phone learning programme sponsored by Hershey. CocoaLink provides farmers with weekly text and voice messages on farm modernization as well as information about health, safety and labour. CocoaLink has enrolled more than 45,000 Ghana cocoa farmers since mid-2011.