Mars launches cocoa cultivation program


CHICAGO – Nearly four years after improving the welfare of cocoa farmers became the basis of a sustainable cocoa development strategy, Mars Inc. shared a plan that, according to the company, will help it achieve its goal.

The company said it would launch two programs to help put 14,000 small cocoa farms in Ivory Coast and Indonesia “on the path to a sustainable livelihood in the next eight years.”

The programs were developed in consultation with cocoa farmers and took advantage of lessons learned from Mars as part of the Shubh Mint Project, a program that has successfully boosted the income of mint growers in India.

Mars has said it will use the results of new programs in Côte d’Ivoire and Indonesia to “create a plan of intervention that Mars can scale across the cocoa supply chain.” Worldwide, about 5 million farmers rely on yaks for livelihoods.

While many ways to improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers have been proposed and explored, truly effective and sustainable solutions have been elusive, Mars said.

“We are working to crack the sustainable income code for cocoa farmers so that they and their families thrive for generations,” said Barry Parkin, chief sustainability and purchasing director at Mars. “Efforts to improve farmers’ livelihoods based on discontinued measures or individual problems will not lead to the necessary changes. Farmers may understand what needs to be done to improve their crops and livelihoods, but may not have the market support to make these changes. In this new effort, we are committed to helping to remove obstacles, especially the lack of access to finance and the need to adapt to climate change. ”

The Farmers Income Laboratory (FIL), described by Mars as a tank-do, founded by the company, reviewed more than 1,500 studies describing and evaluating overall measures to increase farmers ’incomes. A FIL review found that only three interventions increased revenues by more than 50% and could be maintained over time.

Mars said it would apply the findings in a new “test and learn” approach that combines best practices to unlock farmers ’entrepreneurship, diversify income streams and increase productivity to increase farm sustainability and accelerate income to scale. successful measures more widely ”.

The company said most cocoa today is grown on small family farms with poor access to electricity, clean water, reliable roads or quality schools. The negative effects of climate change exacerbate the problems faced by farmers, as well as market failures, lack of access to official financial systems, volatile prices and the lack of alternative sources of income that would serve as a buffer against market volatility.

“These barriers can leave cocoa farmers in poverty, unable to invest or grow their businesses due to factors beyond their control,” Mars said. “Despite past efforts by the industry to improve farmers’ livelihoods, unfortunately, the poverty of small farmers has not been eradicated.”

In developing its programs, Mars said it would work with many organizations, including Fairtrade, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Institute for Developmental Influence (I4DI) and ECOOKIM, Fairtrade Cooperative Union, from which Mars has been running for several years. . The company said it believed its initiative would be “the industry’s most comprehensive to date efforts to eliminate sustainable barriers that prevent cocoa farmers from making a living.”

The FIL study directed Mars to ensure that programs go “beyond selective short-term interventions that are not entirely effective in achieving sustainable change”. Instead, the company said long-term systemic change would be implemented through comprehensive measures such as providing access to financial instruments, including loans below market and mobile banking, agroforestry techniques to mitigate climate change and adaptation, and diversification measures. income to eliminate barriers to earning.

Mars said it is important to tailor approaches to meet the unique needs of farmers, not to impose a single approach for all. Other steps that need to be taken include strengthening farmers’ cooperatives and market access, and appointing a “long-term, fair search for financial security.”

The company said the Shubh Mint project would be a source of what Mars hopes will become “key learning”. As part of a project aimed at increasing the income of mint producers in Uttar Pradesh, India, farmers’ incomes rose by more than 250%, while the cost of mint production fell by more than 20%, according to Mars.

The Mint’s program includes activities such as training farmers in good agricultural practice; creation of four self-sustaining farming companies; and attracting more than 8,000 women through women’s farming groups and self-help groups.

“Mars intends to develop new approaches and share its findings – including what works and what doesn’t – to help the wider industry collectively jump over challenges, reach solutions that drive systemic change, and identify a sustainable path to earnings,” she said. company.

Plans for projects in Ivory Coast and Indonesia came five years after Mars announced the Sustainable Generation plan and four years after the company announced two pillars of the plan. The first pillar was “Responsible Cocoa Today” and was aimed at ensuring that by 2025 all of its cocoa was responsibly extracted on a global scale and leaked. As part of this pillar, the company said it would pursue systems to combat deforestation, child labor and increase farmers ’incomes.

As for the second pillar, Mars said it hopes to demonstrate that step-by-step changes in farmers ’incomes and livelihoods will be possible. At the time, the company said it would test ways to increase productivity, income, sustainability and overall sustainability through crop and income diversification, gender programs, rural and savings models and savings and loans and farm development plans.

Mars launches cocoa cultivation program

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