Friday 14 June 2024
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Hershey launches Income Accelerator in Côte d’Ivoire

"The Income Accelerator is part of Hershey's long-term commitment to make a real difference in the lives of cocoa farmers and their children," said Jason Reiman, Chief Supply Chain Officer at The Hershey Company. "We are proud to begin this important initiative in collaboration with the government of Côte d'Ivoire and our NGO partners. Together, we can support better livelihoods for farming households and ensure bright futures for cocoa-growing communities"

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HERSHEY, PA, USA – The Hershey Company announced the launch of its Income Accelerator in Côte d’Ivoire. The program will support increased incomes for cocoa farming households through the provision of cash transfers (CTs) and investments in village savings and loan associations (VSLAs). Designed and implemented with input from the Conseil du Café-Cacao, the Rainforest Alliance and CARE, the Income Accelerator offers a proven, multi-faceted approach to help address cocoa farmer poverty while also supporting sustainable farming practices and mitigating the risk of child labor.

“The Income Accelerator is part of Hershey’s long-term commitment to make a real difference in the lives of cocoa farmers and their children,” said Jason Reiman, Chief Supply Chain Officer at The Hershey Company. “We are proud to begin this important initiative in collaboration with the government of Côte d’Ivoire and our NGO partners. Together, we can support better livelihoods for farming households and ensure bright futures for cocoa-growing communities.”

As part of the Income Accelerator, Hershey in partnership with the Rainforest Alliance will distribute mobile cash transfers of up to $600 per household per year to approximately 5,000 cocoa farming households within its supply chain. These CTs, which will offer an additional source of income for households, will be based on the adoption of sustainable and regenerative farm management practices that increase farm profitability and resiliency to unexpected environmental circumstances.

With the support of CARE and cocoa farmer cooperatives, Hershey also plans to strengthen approximately 200 existing Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) in its supply chain and establish another 350 new VSLAs. These 550 VSLAs will support an estimated 15,000 members and their families. Through these combined efforts, the program aims to yield meaningful incremental savings per participant within three years of them becoming a VSLA member. VSLAs provide members, particularly women and single mothers, a local structure for increasing savings and accessing loans at low interest rates in farming communities where formal banking and micro-financing services are scarce.

“Low producer income is a root cause of child labor and deforestation. We support this Income Accelerator program because the issue of producer income is at the heart of our concerns,” said Yves Brahima Koné, Managing Director at Conseil du Café-Cacao.

The Income Accelerator is based on proven poverty reduction strategies aimed at increasing incomes and supporting professionalized farming practices. It is well aligned with objectives included in the government of Côte d’Ivoire’s National Strategy for Sustainable Cocoa (SNCD). Research has shown that farmers receiving financial literacy and farm business training via CTs,1 and with access to savings and loans institutions, are more likely to have higher household incomes and engagement of women in household decision-making.2 With increased incomes and more professionalized operations, farming households are less likely to rely on children for hazardous work. They are also more likely to have enhanced food security and additional resources that can be invested in their children’s education and overall wellbeing.

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Nanga Kone, Country Director for Côte d’Ivoire at the Rainforest Alliance, said: “One of the most urgent problems cocoa farmers face is that the income they get from their crop is not enough to achieve a decent standard of living. Combined with the impact of climate change, even in good years, many smallholder farmers struggle to make ends meet. Guided by three decades of research and experience, we believe that the Income Accelerator will help ensure long-term financial and quality of life benefit for cocoa farmers and their families in Côte d’Ivoire. The Rainforest Alliance looks forward to working in partnership with Hershey to help farmers link the short-term cash payments to their farm’s long-term sustainability and profitability strategy.”

“Since 1991, CARE has helped more than 13.5 million people join savings groups, and we aim to engage 62 million people in savings groups by 2030. Savings groups help women, girls and families across the globe increase their incomes and access food and healthcare. In fact, our research has shown that women who participate in savings groups triple their incomes. Hershey’s continued investment and support for the VLSA program will have a transformational impact on the lives of cocoa-producing families and communities throughout Côte d’Ivoire,” said Michelle Nunn, President and CEO at CARE.

The Income Accelerator is expected to positively impact no fewer than 20,000 households within Hershey’s supply chain and related communities. To measure and evaluate progress, Hershey will leverage tools and expertise provided by a Learning Advisory Committee that includes Sustainable Food Lab and is chaired by the Conseil du Café-Cacao. Updates on the program’s progress will be provided on the Hershey website and in its annual ESG report. Hershey is committed to continued collaboration with industry and governmental partners in Côte d’Ivoire to ensure the program has a long-term beneficial impact for cocoa farming households.

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