Industry, Gates Foundation support cocoa farmers

by Jeff Gelski
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SEATTLE — Food and beverage industry members have made $42 million in cash and in-kind contributions to go along with two partnerships and $48 million in grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that are designed to help hundreds of thousands of small cocoa and cashew farmers in Africa.

Manufacturers The Hershey Co., Kraft Foods Inc. and Mars, Inc. all made financial and in-kind contributions as did cocoa processors Archer Daniels Midland Co., Barry Callebaut, Blommer Chocolate Co. and Cargill. Supply chain managers and allied industries Armajaro, Ecom-Agrocacao, Olam International Ltd. and Starbucks Coffee Co. also made financial and in-kind contributions.

One Gates Foundation grant of $23 million went to the World Cocoa Foundation while the other grant of $25 million went to the German development organization Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusaammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH.

The World Cocoa Foundation will administer the cocoa project with a number of national governing organizations (NGOs) and other partners implementing the project. It aims to increase farming household incomes through improved farmer knowledge and productivity, better cocoa quality, crop diversification, and improved supply chain efficiencies. The five-year project will reach about 200,000 smallholder cocoa-farming households in Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia and Nigeria.

The cashew project aims to improve the quality of raw cashew net cultivation, increase farmer productivity, improve linkages between smallholder farmers and the marketplace, build African processing capacity, and promote a sustainable global market for African cashews. The cashew project’s goal is to help 150,000 smallholder cashew farming households in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Mozambique increase their income by 50% by 2012.

"Making real progress against global hunger and poverty starts with small farmers," said Dr. Rajiv Shah, director of Agricultural Development at the Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "Creative partnership like these bring together the knowledge of locally based NGOs and governments with the technical know-how and market expertise of private-sector firms, and have the potential to help millions of farmers boost their yields and incomes so they can improve their lives."

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