We will scale up programs and partnerships that have the potential to fundamentally change the supply chain for the long-term. Our focus is on testing and learning how to improve productivity, diversify incomes, and increase opportunity in farming communities.
It matters to the future success of our business and the success of cocoa farming families. And it’s critical for us to live up to the principles of responsibility and mutuality we set for ourselves at Mars.
We see great opportunity for a real change in the system. We continue to challenge the way we buy cocoa to improve the benefit to farmers and by moving to longer-term sourcing relationships that offer more predictability for farming communities. In addition, we’re determined to play a leading role in driving change, in part by continuing to partner with governments, industry and civil society to find policy solutions on issues such as access to education, child protection and land rights.
Supporting Enterprise with Farm Development Plans
Improved productivity will help farmers grow more cocoa on less land to help preserve forests and increase farmer income. A long-term farm development and restoration approach was developed in partnership with our cocoa and science research team, global experts like World Agroforestry Institute (ICRAF), cocoa producing countries, field agents, suppliers and farmers. This approach is tailored to each farm and family and provides the benefits of applied science with continuing coaching, quality cocoa trees, an investment schedule and other farm inputs to raise yield.
Creating Farmer Advice Networks
Access to better agricultural inputs and advice will help cocoa growers improve and maintain the health of their farms. In Indonesia in 2013, we created a network of “Cocoa Doctors” who train 100 farmers annually through our Cocoa Academy. These specialists, who run their own cocoa businesses, provide advice and coaching to fellow farmers, reaching approximately 20,000 local farmers with good agricultural practices training in 2018. We’ll continue to learn how this network can best support farmers.
Mars, together with our partners, has supported more than 50,000 cocoa famers in Indonesia since 2012 through our Cocoa Development Center (CDC) and Mars Cocoa Academy in Luwu Raya, South Sulawesi, where cocoa farmers can study modern farming techniques and become Cocoa Doctors, helping farmers to dramatically increase their cocoa production.
Improving Scientific Understanding
Good science is needed to ensure healthier, more resilient and more productive cocoa plants. We continue to work extensively with universities globally, ICRAF in West Africa, the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service, and conduct research at our own centers in Indonesia, Brazil and the United States. In Ecuador, our research farm, Hacienda La Chola, is putting our plant science learnings into practice at scale, helping us test which insights can best benefit farmers.
Building diversity and resilience in farming is important. We continue to build understanding on how best to implement diversified farming in Indonesia and West Africa through our own projects and in partnership with ICRAF. We will work with farmers to roll out learnings shown to meaningfully increase income from livestock and other cash, timber and food crops.
DOVE® Chocolate Empowers Women in Cote d’Ivoire
We’ve collaborated with CARE to financially support women in the cocoa communities, giving them the means to support themselves and their families.
The well-being of women in cocoa communities is a critical link to family food security and nutrition, education, and health and drives the long-term prospects for a future of educated cocoa farmers. Together with CARE International, we have developed a unique Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) model that includes a number of essential building blocks beyond the foundational savings and loans activity. The Mars DOVE® brand first implemented VSLAs in collaboration with CARE and with support from the Jacob’s Foundation in Côte d’Ivoire. The program grew in 2018 as part of Mars’ Cocoa for Generations strategy aimed at creating a quicker pathway for cocoa farmers, their families and their communities to thrive. Research conducted in VSLA communities supported by Mars shows that they increase women’s social and economic empowerment and more than double women’s average savings when they are supported over a three-year period. By mid-2019, 458 groups had been formed with 12,134 members — 80 percent of which are women — and a total of more than US $700,000 in savings mobilized.
To further our efforts to empower women, we are delighted to bolster our partnership with CARE in 2020. We are extending our partnership with CARE with the support of a $10M investment to further expand our unique VSLA model beyond the 12,000 members we have supported through mid-2019. We are targeting to reach 50,000 more members in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana by 2025.
As part of our Cocoa for Generations strategy, Mars partners with CARE on unlocking opportunities for women by implementing successful village savings and loan models. In this short film, we meet Honorine, Rosalie and Elyse who talk about how the VSLA is helping them and their families.
Mars has been buying cocoa to make our chocolate brands for over a century, putting this integral ingredient at the heart of our company’s heritage. For four decades we have partnered with others to work towards our goal of more sustainable cocoa production. We know that a truly sustainable cocoa sector is essential if we are to continue to provide chocolate for future generations of chocolate lovers. Our ambition is to create an environmentally sustainable supply chain where everyone, especially cocoa farmers, has the opportunity to thrive and human rights are respected.
We are committed to taking action to drive transformational change that makes a lasting impact across the entire cocoa supply chain, unlocking opportunities for farmers, their families and their communities. We believe that through Cocoa for Generations and our wider environmental stewardship, we have a chance to do that, and are pleased to share our progress.