DEERFIELD, ILL. – Mondel?z International plans to help cocoa farmers increase sustainable production and to improve living conditions in the Ivory Coast through an agreement reached with the Conseil du Café Cacao of the Ivory Coast’s government, Mondel?z said June 4. Non-governmental organization CARE International will lead Mondel?z International’s Cocoa Life projects in cocoa-growing Ivory Coast communities grown through 2016.

As part of the agreement, Cocoa Life has begun a pilot program with CARE International to work in 11 villages with nearly 4,000 farmers and nearly 40,000 community members. Cocoa Life plans to work with the CNRA, the government’s agronomic research arm, to fight crop disease and to develop more productive and disease-resistant cocoa trees. Separately, Mondel?z International plans to collaborate with the Ivory Coast’s agricultural extension agency, ANANDER, to boost its farmer training programs.

“A sustainable cocoa supply begins with thriving farming communities, and more efficient farming leads to farmers’ financial security,” said Christine M. McGrath, vice-president of external affairs and Cocoa Life at Mondel?z International. “Partnering is key to creating lasting change through our Cocoa Life program, and together with the Ivorian government and CARE International, we’re empowering cocoa farming families to create the kind of communities they and their children want to live in, while promoting gender equality.”

The company’s Cocoa Life program is a $400 million, 10-year commitment to improve the livelihoods and living conditions of more than 200,000 cocoa farmers and about 1 million people in cocoa farming communities around the world.

In the Ivory Coast, Cocoa Life and CARE have organized community meetings in which farming families discuss their needs and priorities. The program has held specific meetings for women farmers. Cocoa Life plans to have women become more involved in farmer training, farmer co-operatives and community life.

“At CARE, we know that business can play a vital role in tackling poverty and injustice,” said Balla Sidibe, country director for CARE International in the Ivory Coast. “For a company like Mondel?z International, that means seeing poor people as vital stakeholders in their long-term success by putting farmers and communities at the heart of their supply chain.”