In 2012, Hershey began the Learn to Grow (LTG) farmer training program in order to improve cocoa farm productivity and farmer livelihoods. In 2015, LTG impacted 31,102 farmers across 464 cocoa communities — 15% of those farmers being women.
According to the World Cocoa Foundation, about 70 percent of the world’s cocoa is grown in West Africa, primarily on small holder farms of about two to four hectares in size. Learn to Grow emphasizes good environmental, social and agricultural practices on these farms to empower farmers — and it certainly doesn’t hurt that these efforts will help us reach our goal of sourcing 100 percent certified and sustainable cocoa by 2020.
Learn to Grow provides farmers with a three-year training program that can lead to UTZ certification as producers of sustainable cocoa. First launched in 2012 in Assin Fosu (Ghana’s central cocoa region) then expanded to Nigeria in 2013 and to Côte d’Ivoire in 2014, the program plans to distribute one million higher yielding, drought- and disease-resistant trees to cocoa farmers in West Africa by 2017. Source Trust, a nonprofit organization based in the United Kingdom, is a founding partner that focuses on helping farmers improve their crop yields and their livelihoods through sustainable farming practices.
If farms meet acceptable certification standards, the owners receive premium payments for their cocoa to increase personal income and gain improvements for their communities. The program also encourages women and young cocoa farmers to take leadership roles in farmer organizations by leveraging training and knowledge sharing. The Hershey Learn to Grow program is helping farming communities improve their yields and practices and is an investment in helping Hershey ensure that we’re sourcing 100 percent certified and sustainable cocoa by 2020.