Hershey announced yesterday that it would expand its Learn to Grow program, which started in Ghana in 2012, to Nigeria.
The project involves a public and private partnership with IDH (The Sustainable Trade Initiative) and Source Trust that will train 20,000 farmers new techniques to double their productivity and boost their pay by 30%.
Nigeria cocoa output
Nigeria’s output is forecast to be around 210,000 metric tons (MT) this crop year, according to the International Cocoa Association (ICCO).
The Cocoa Association of Nigeria had expected 300,000 MT this year after distributing chemicals to help farmers, but excessive rainfall and diseases like black pod mean a 20% decline is forecast.
Nigeria’s cocoa output is far lower than West African compatriots Ivory Coast and Ghana, which account for around two thirds of the global cocoa supply with an annual output of around 1.2m and 0.7m MT respectively.
Hershey hopes to improve yields.
“We believe cocoa farming in Nigeria will benefit greatly from modernization programs that help increase incomes, improve communities, reduce child labor and assure long-term supply,” said Terry O’Day, Hershey senior vice president, chief supply chain officer.
“Hershey is driving rapid improvement in cocoa farming in West Africa through technologies that are popular with farmers, such as satellite farm mapping, model demonstration farms and mobile phone training in the CocoaLink program.”
Hershey sourcing initiatives
The company plans to source only certified cocoa by 2020, as announced last October. It says it is on course for just over 10% this year and will scale up to between 40-50% by 2016.
Hershey’s Learn to Grow programs in Ghana and Nigeria form part of its 21st Century Cocoa Sustainability Plan – the company’s roadmap to a sustainable cocoa supply.
Under the Plan, the firm is also aiming to quadruple cocoa yields in Mexico in the next ten years.