In February 2009, ADM joined the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and several cocoa and chocolate industry participants to announce a US$40 million program to significantly improve the livelihoods of approximately 200,000 cocoa farming families in the western African nations of Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia and Cameroon. The Cocoa Livelihoods Program seeks to enhance farmer knowledge and competitiveness, improve crop productivity and quality, promote crop diversification and improve supply-chain efficiency by training farmers in better production techniques, crop-quality improvement and business skills. It also will improve access to agricultural inputs and reliable market information.
The Cocoa Livelihoods program augments ADM’s own cocoa sustainability initiatives, which are designed to help cocoa farmers around the world improve productivity through access to better planting materials, farming technology, environmental-management tools and market information while working with cocoa-farming communities to confront issues ranging from poverty and disease to concerns about child labor on West African cocoa farms. ADM believes that by working with farmers, grower cooperatives, local traders, NGOs, academia, industry partners and governments, we can help address these complex issues and improve the lives of cocoa farmers and their communities. ADM’s programs include:
The Socially and Environmentally Responsible Agricultural Practices program, or SERAP, which began in 2005. Since that time, the initiative has provided more than US $3.3 million in financial incentives to cooperatives and individual farmers in Côte d’Ivoire that meet specific criteria for financial transparency, product-quality management, safe farming practices, responsible labor management and forest protection. During the 2005-06 growing year, six cooperatives with approximately 6,000 farmer members participated in SERAP, delivering 4,000 metric tons of cocoa under the program. During the 2008-09 growing year, the number of participating co-ops grew to 24, representing more than 12,000 farmers who together delivered more than 10,500 metric tons of cocoa. Moreover, an analysis of several cocoa bean quality criteria — including moisture and free fatty acid content — between 2005-06 and 2008-09 shows SERAP participants are regularly achieving strong results in virtually every quality category.
The ADM Cocoa Technical Training Program, which works through cooperatives in Côte d’Ivoire to teach cocoa growers about labor practices, farm safety, HIV/AIDS prevention, operational transparency, bean quality and environmental stewardship. The program also offers business training to managers of farmer cooperatives, as well as financial support in the form of seed money at the beginning of the growing season and zero-interest revolving credit throughout the year. More than 16,000 growers have attended ADM Technical Training seminars since the year 2000, and it is estimated that the programs has indirectly reached 160,000 members of the regions farming population.
These programs’ objectives complement those we have helped to advance through the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture’s Sustainable Tree Crops Program (STCP), and through the Ivorian School Canteen Program.
The Sustainable Tree Crops Program’s Farmer Field Schools have educated thousands of cocoa farmers about labor standards, business practices and farming methods. To help reach more farmers with these important messages, ADM provides opportunities for farmers from participating cooperatives to attend the STCP’s “Train the Trainer” Field Schools. These programs prepare attendee farmers to serve as technical advisors capable of sharing information among thousands of additional co-op members once they have completed the program.
Meanwhile, with an eye toward nurturing and nourishing stronger cocoa-growing communities, ADM supports the Ivorian School Canteen Program to improve nutrition and school attendance. Working with the United Nations World Food Programme and the Ivorian Ministry of Education, ADM provides direct financial support and in-kind donations of protein for inclusion in meals served at schools. The availability of nutritious meals provides a compelling incentive for parents to send their children to school. As of March 2008, ADM’s contributions to the program had provided meals for more than 81,000 children.