Mondelēz International’s Cocoa Life programme, helps to secure and improve the future of farmers who produce the cocoa essential to every Cadbury chocolate product. From July 2019, many Cadbury products sold in South Africa will bear the Cocoa Life logo, marking the products as contributing to sustainable farming, responsible sourcing and wide-reaching community development in the cocoa sector. Just over 70% of the world’s cocoa is grown by West African farmers, in countries such as the Ivory Coast, Ghana , Nigeria and Cameroon. Most of the farms responsible for the world’s cocoa supply are family-owned properties, less than 2ha in size and produce 600-800kg of cocoa per annum. Over the last few decades, many farmers have seen their yields dwindle due to a variety of factors. Most notably, these include the farming being left to older members of the family as younger people are drawn to the attractions of city life; farmers clinging to farming methods passed down through generations; diseases which have ravaged cocoa plants and the far-reaching implications of climate change.
Cocoa Life aims to strengthen cocoa communities in Africa and inspire the next generation of cocoa farmers through empowerment. With the aid of Cocoa Life, farmers can now identify crop diseases earlier on and are taught how to manage the soil and use chemicals responsibly. Old cocoa trees are being replaced with new seedlings and motorised farming devices have been introduced to improve productivity and profitability. Cocoa Life initiatives also include microfinance schemes such as village savings and loans associations which have opened up the opportunity for women to set up small businesses, by becoming income generators to help the farms sustain themselves outside of the cocoa season.
African Independent spoke exclusively with says Yaa Peprah Amekudzi, Country Lead of Mondelēz International Cocoa Life Programme in Ghana, to get some insight into the programme.
What is the main objective of the Cocoa Life program?
Cocoa Life is Mondelēz International’s global cocoa sustainability program. Our mission is to lead the transformation of the cocoa sector. We do this by implementing our own holistic program in partnership with others, sharing what we've learned on the journey, and by advocating for policy change. That’s why we are investing $400m over 10 years to empower 200,000 cocoa farmers and improve the lives of more than one million people in cocoa communities across our six cocoa-growing countries: Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Indonesia, Dominican Republic, India and Brazil. Our aim is to create a movement for lasting change, rooted in deep understanding, sector-wide collaboration and partnership.
You’ve mentioned that Cocoa Life aims to ensure the cocoa that goes into Cadbury products is “made right”, which means tackling the many challenges faced by cocoa farmers. What type of challenges do these entail?
We aim to invest directly in tackling the root causes of challenge such as climate change, gender inequality, poverty and child labor. These challenges are complex, and there are no quick or easy solutions, which is why our program takes a holistic approach. We don’t fix one problem only to create another. Cross-sector collaboration and partnership is the key to lasting change. That’s why we work with governments, non-government organizations, supply chain partners and communities in order to leverage their expertise, networks and ensure that the program is effectively rolled out on the ground. We focus our efforts on the three areas where we can make the most difference: cocoa farming as a prosperous business; empowered and inclusive cocoa communities; conserving and restoring forests. In doing so, we are growing opportunities for cocoa farmers and their families, by tackling all of these problems together.
Aside from financing, what initiatives does Cocoa Life administer in order to empower farmers?
We have teams on the ground who work hand-in-hand with cocoa farmers and their families to empower them to make cocoa farming a resilient business, and build communities that are able to take on their own development, while conserving the land and forests.Through our community development programs, we equip farmers with financial security, agricultural and business skills, enabling higher productivity. We empower communities to develop their own forest protection and restoration plans, ensuring a sense of ownership on the ground. To encourage farmers and communities to adopt good environmental practices, we provide training on how to protect land and forests. To date, we have distributed over 1.2 million non-cocoa trees on cocoa farms to provide additional sources of income and shade to help the cocoa grow. We also provide financial incentives to encourage them to become more sustainable, efficient and resilient. We currently have 900 in place in Côte d’Ivoire, and target 33,000 farmers by the end of 2022. Women’s empowerment has also been an important part of the program since we launched. Woman are change-makers – encouraging children to stay in school, creating new sources of income for their families, and encouraging environmentally friendly practices. So we also provide women with training, access to farm inputs and finance, which in turn improves agricultural productivity, builds livelihoods and helps cocoa communities thrive. We also promote leadership positions for women as part of the Community Development Committees and Community Action Plan processes, including a target of 30% of women representatives in the process.
What’s next on the horizon for Cocoa Life?
Currently, eight Mondelēz chocolate brands are part of Cocoa Life: Cadbury Dairy Milk, Côte d’Or, Milka, Freia, Daim, Green & Black’s, Suchard and Marabou. We recently announced that by the end of 2025, this will extend to all Mondelēz chocolate brands, so a significant focus will be on rolling out Cocoa Life to the rest of the brands and onboarding them to our program. This is an important step for our brands, as it will ensure their cocoa is sustainably sourced, while also bringing them closer to their consumers. Using its scale, deep understanding through our independent, industry-leading impact evaluation and through sector-wide collaboration and partnerships, Cocoa Life aims to lead the transformation of the cocoa sector.