Global snack company Mondelez International, Inc. has announced plans of adding the message 'Helping Farmers to Grow' on its chocolate products, in considering environmental, social and ethical factors when choosing where to source key ingredients, such as cocoa.
Speaking at a recent media roundtable, Navisha Bechan-Sewkuran, manager of Corporate and Government Affairs at Mondelez South, Central and East Africa said that sustainable sourcing is not only good for business but also for the empowerment of farmers, communities and future generations of cocoa farmers, particularly in rural cocoa growing areas.
The purpose of the roundtable was for Mondelez International and co-hosts, Bean There Coffee Company, to create a platform to discuss sustainable sourcing and why it is necessary. Industry and academic experts also formed part of the panel to provide a holistic view on the subject.
Mondelez has implemented it’s Cocoa Life programme in West Africa Cote D’ Ivoire and Ghana, South America Brazil and Dominican Republic and Asia Indonesia and India.
Their programme was launched in 2012 and will by 2020 have invested $400 million, reached 200,000 cocoa farmers and 1 million community members in the regions where they source cocoa.
“It is a well-known fact that the empowerment of women is in fact an empowerment of the entire community,” said Bechan-Sewkuran. The Cocoa Life programme invests in women by providing farmer training, improving financial literacy and resilience and empowering them to earn an income and be active community leaders and members.
The programme also helps to protect children from child labour in cocoa-growing communities by addressing its root causes and combatting climate change by reducing its carbon footprint and addressing deforestation in the cocoa supply chain.
Community action plan
Mondelez’s intervention goes beyond the procurement of cocoa but includes helping communities identify ways of developing their land and diversifying their sources of revenue.
“Cocoa is a seasonal crop. It was important that we share skills with farmers and assist them to develop a 'community action plan' to ensure that they have a way of looking after themselves and an income beyond the cocoa season.
“We are proud to say that with our intervention, we have managed to help communities that were solely dependent on cocoa farming to diversify and they now farm pigs, rabbits and in one case have created a bakery that has become a key main source of income,” said Bechan-Sewkuran.
She added: “That community’s action plan focused on building a training center and, for a fee, will train neighbouring communities on how to bake bread.”
Bean There Coffee Company strives to make a sustainable difference in the lives of African coffee producers by personally sourcing quality coffee through direct fair trade. Founder Jonathan Robinson added: “Not many companies practice fair trade as an overall buying philosophy, as we do. By building sustainable relationships with our producers, we can offer the farmers a competitive price, regardless of negative market fluctuations.”