West Africa is where some of the world’s richest cocoa flavors are grown today. For more than 50 years, Hershey’s cocoa has come from this region, primarily from Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. More than 2 million cocoa farmers work on small farms where land is scarce, yields are low and methods are outdated with no real access to information. To have a positive effect, farmers and their families need to see changes that affect their daily lives. All of the partners along the cocoa supply chain need to work together to make this happen.
There is an art and craft to farming cocoa. It’s typically a family business and has had little to do with science until now. Hershey’s 21st Century Cocoa Sustainability Strategy is helping to modernize cocoa farming to increase farmer incomes, attract new farmers and improve cocoa growing communities. The 21st Century Cocoa Sustainability Strategy will also help accelerate Hershey’s commitment to purchase 100 percent certified and sustainable cocoa* by 2020 for all chocolate treats around the world.
Hershey’s strategy to help West African family cocoa farmers develop more productive agriculture practices has two primary benefits. First and foremost, cocoa farmland can be managed and protected as a natural resource. Through program initiatives, trees receive better care and soil depletion is reduced, plus, critically, yields rise for the farmer. Second, an improved farm with higher yields raises the living standards of the farmer’s family, which in turn enables their children to go to school and ultimately creates a more stable community.
Hershey is currently focusing its initiatives in West Africa – Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria – because cocoa farmers there have the greatest need to improve their farms and raise living standards for themselves and their families. Hershey is working on similar farm improvement projects in Indonesia and Latin America, including an innovative project in Mexico to restore the disease-ravaged cocoa crop.
*Certified and sustainable cocoa is verified by independent auditors to ensure the highest international standards for labor, environmental and farming practices. We partner with three of the world’s most recognized cocoa certifying organizations: UTZ, Fairtrade USA and Rainforest Alliance.