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Cargill sets clear course for cocoa sustainability

Location: Fazenda Provisao, Bahia, Brazil©2017 Clay Gordon
Sustainable business practices are essential to cope with challenges of climate change, resource scarcity, social inequality, and fluctuating market conditions

(Schiphol, The Netherlands) 3 October 2017 Cargill today published its third report on the progress and achievements of the Cargill Cocoa Promise, our commitment to sparking a more sustainable cocoa sector for generations to come.

Building on a decades-long focus on sustainability, the Cargill Cocoa Promise has so far supported more than 145,000 farmers worldwide with market access, training and resources, while working with almost 500 farmer organizations and cooperatives. Now the Cargill Cocoa Promise is continuing to evolve to meet the most pressing needs of cocoa farmers and communities, with the establishment of a future pathway aligned with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Supporting smallholder farmers to build more resilient and sustainable businesses has been at the core of our own cocoa and chocolate business ethos for over two decades”, said Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate President, Harold Poelma. “But the challenges smallholder farmers face have changed – and our strategy has evolved accordingly. Using the learnings and insights gathered over the years, we have charted a course for the future impact of the Cargill Cocoa Promise.”

This year’s report focuses on progress in the areas of direct sourcing, limiting deforestation, improving traceability and building up the socioeconomic resilience of farmers and their wider communities. Eighty five percent of Cargill’s sustainable cocoa is sourced directly from farmers through farmer organizations and cooperatives. Working with farmer groups enables Cargill to strengthen these organizations’ own internal capabilities, supporting them to become more efficient, profitable and self-sustaining. For instance, in 2016-17, farmers in Cote d’Ivoire who implemented the learnings of one-to-one coaching on good farming practices saw their yields increase 49 percent on average.

Significant progress has been made on direct sourcing, traceability, environmental impact and farmer and community socio-economic resilience.

Creating a self-sustaining ripple effect is also the aim of broader community activities, particularly in the area of income diversification, which can help build economic resilience in the face of fluctuating conditions.

For instance, through ongoing global partnership with the humanitarian organization, CARE, Cargill has introduced more than 175 village savings and loans schemes through Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. This has helped more than 4,000 people – half of whom are women – obtain small loans to start their own businesses.

Cargill is working to entirely eliminate all forms of child labor in the cocoa supply chain and ensure children have a bright future to look forward to. So far, over 145,000 farmers have been trained to understand the worst forms of child labor, and 20,000 children have been provided with access to education and healthcare.

Technology is proving an invaluable tool in driving progress, particularly around more accurate and transparent product traceability. Across the globe, GPS-mapping of more than 56,000 farms is boosting provenance information and informing farm development planning. Meanwhile in Ghana, 25,000 farmers have signed onto a scheme that allows us to tag and track each bag of cocoa beans Cargill buys back to the farmer. At the point of delivery, farmers are immediately paid via mobile money accounts.

New innovations have a vital role to play in protecting the planet and the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. Using GPS technology, Cargill conducted a risk assessment of 2.3 million hectares of forest to evaluate habitat type and tree cover loss, as part of its global efforts to eliminate deforestation across agricultural supply chains by 2030. The results serve as a baseline to prioritize interventions and advance sustainable landscape approaches.

Evidence-based learnings inform our pathway to 2030, with evolved goals based on U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.

Cargill firmly believes that investing in sustainability is an investment in the long-term security of the cocoa supply chain. With this in mind, and building on evidence and experience from the past two decades, the company is expanding its commitment to the SDGs and has charted a clear course for the future with five 2030 Goals in the following areas:

  1. Famer Livelihoods. We will champion professional cocoa farming practices to strengthen the socio-economic resilience of one million cocoa farmers and their communities.
  2. Community Wellbeing. We will enhance the safety and wellbeing of children and families in cocoa farming areas, by eliminating child labor in our supply chain and giving one million families access to basic services.
  3. Protecting Our Planet. We will promote environmental best practices in our business and across our supply chain, working towards zero deforestation in our supply chain.
  4. Consumer Confidence. We will help consumers around the world choose sustainable cocoa and chocolate products with confidence, by ensuring 100 percent farmer-to-plant cocoa bean traceability and 100 percent chocolate ingredients sourced in line with our sustainability code of conduct.
  5. Transformation, Together. We will use the power of partnerships to accelerate and magnify our efforts to achieve a level of sector transformation that cannot be accomplished alone.

The 2030 Goals will allow Cargill to think globally, but act locally, using the framework of the SDGs to meet the direct needs of people in cocoa communities in a transparent, credible and measurable way.

“Achieving the SDGs demands a common approach, making use of new innovations and working with partners across the sector to achieve our common ambition of a more sustainable cocoa sector overall. We believe our global goals will help accelerate this sector-wide shift, to the benefit of all stakeholders involved”, said Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate’s Director of Sustainability, Taco Terheijden.

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