The KitKat maker’s initiative provides farmers with €100 incentives to complete four key activities: enrolling their children in school, improving good agricultural practices, taking part in agroforestry schemes, and diversifying their income to additional sourcing, such as rearing livestock and running a business. They get a further €100 for completing all the tasks, meaning they can earn a potential €500. After the first two years, the incentives will be reduced to €250.
Most of the data released by Nestlé in the report is from the pilot phase, which covered 1,000 families, and took place between 2020 and 2022. The current phase of the program encompasses 10,000 cocoa-farming families across Côte d'Ivoire and have so far received €2 million in incentives collectively.
The Income Accelerator Program works with families receiving payments through a secure ‘mobile money’ transfer, which is split equally between the male and female heads of each household to encourage gender equality.
It is well documented by this publication and other sources that one of the key causes of child labour in cocoa farming is the low income of the farming families. At the start of the scheme, the average income for a cocoa farming family in Côte d'Ivoire was 3,000 Swiss Francs ($3,447), approximately half of the 6500 Swiss Francs living income benchmark.
The income accelerator aims at increasing farmer income in order to “funnel that towards increasing the total household income with the aim to reduce the risk of child labour,” said Darrell High, Nestlé cocoa manager. When asked, nearly all farming families expressed a desire to send their children to school. In the pilot scheme, 98% of children aged 6 to 16 were enrolled in school, increasing the enrolment rate by 8%. Specifically, the money helps with travelling to schools, especially to secondary schools for older children. While there were some problems reaching families due to their remoteness, all in all, 2,837 children were registered by the end of the pilot phase.
Speaking to CN’s sister title foodnavigator.com, High said: “The money will help because often the secondary school is not in the village where they live,” High told us, “secondary schools are in towns, so kids have to commute, or they’re staying in the town during the week. And there is a cost to that, so money will help getting through that.”
Another activity with a €100 incentive is taking part in good agricultural practices. Pruning, for example, enhances productivity. Nestlé trained and equipped farmers to prune their cocoa trees. “We're focusing on pruning, as a key activity that hasn't been done well enough in the past but can really unlock the productivity of the cocoa tree,” High said. “We're helping set up training equipment and subsidising pruning groups to do pruning on the farm to the high standard.”
Another incentive was taking part in agroforestry. To improve farm resilience, in the pilot phase Nestlé provided each farm with 20 seedlings of shade trees (20,000 overall). 92% of families planted all of their shade trees. Shade trees are important because they help the cocoa to grow, building resilience and creating a thriving ecosystem.
Nestlé also confirmed that after the completion of the current phase of the program, the test at scale phase, in 2024, it aims to expand to neighbouring Ghana, with the eventual goal of reaching 160,000 farming families across its global cocoa supply chain by 2030.