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Nestle To Ensure The Well-Being Of Cocoa Farmers- Martinez   
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Nestle, a nutrition, health and wellness company, has expressed its commitment to ensuring the well-being of cocoa farmers, the key suppliers of the beans used for their products.

As part of their Creating Shared Value (CSV), which is a corporate social responsibility of the company, Nestle is in strong partnership with Ghana’s COCOBOD and other stakeholders in the cocoa industry to ensure that their plan dubbed “Nestle Cocoa Plan” produces long term benefits for the farmers, the government and Nestlé.

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in an interview, Ms Sandra Martinez, Head of Nestlé’s Confectionery Business, said Cocoa Plan was to ensure that farmers run profitable farms through the sharing of technology and training in best practices.

This, she said, would increase growing of quality cocoa in a sustainable way and increase the yield.

She said farmer premiums were relatively linked to production and yield, but in Ghana, the COCOBOD regulates the range for premiums so that farmers do not lose out significantly during low yield seasons, adding, “Nestlé pays one of the highest premiums to Cocoa Farmers in Ghana”.

“This is what we call ‘Creating Shared Value,’ meaning that while we are creating a stronger business for the future, going beyond sustainability, we also help to create value for the communities where we operate,"Ms Martinez said.

According to Nestle, its CSV was not for charity; therefore the business need of securing quality supply of cocoa grown in accordance with its principles will continue to drive it.

It will evolve over time as they learn from experience and discover new issues and opportunities. Long term partnerships have been developed in countries where the plan is currently being run.

Ms Martinez said Nestle had trained over 9,000 farmers in major cocoa-producing countries, including Ghana, to help increase their yields, as part of its CSV, which aims at buying at least 80,000 tonnes of cocoa beans per year from these farmers.

The training initiative part of its Nestlé Cocoa Plan initiative is aimed at training the farmers in good agronomic practices to help them to increase yields, reduce disease, respect the environment and produce a better quality crop which attracts higher prices.

The NCP is a global programme with commitment to invest worldwide, including in Ghana, a total of CHF110 million in the next 10 years.

This investment includes facilities and capacity building and also aims at distributing 12 million high-potential cocoa trees in the first 10 years of the Cocoa Plan.

The initiative, according to Ms Martinez, would be launched in Ghana soon, and will hinge on three pillars; which are enabling farmers to run profitable farms through farmer training, higher yielding cocoa farms, and rewarding farmers for good quality cocoa.

The official launch is expected to take place in few months where a plan of specific activities and interventions will be outlined. Nestlé will work with the COCOBOD to map out more cocoa growing areas for farmer training, school building projects, women’s empowerment in cocoa growing areas and other interventions which fall under the Nestlé’s Global framework.

The second pillar, she said, is aimed at improving social conditions by eliminating child labour and focusing on women and children and their specific needs for education, health and water.

The third pillar is sourcing for sustainable good quality cocoa through long-term supply, transparency in the supply chain and environmental responsibility.

Ms Martinez said Nestle, together with other 11 cocoa/chocolate companies, had partnered other organisations such as the Fair Labour Association, World Cocoa Foundation, International Cocoa Initiative, UTZ Certified, in one of the largest sustainability programmes for coffee, cocoa and tea in the world in an effort to work together towards a truly sustainable cocoa industry.

She said within the Cocoa Action Framework, Nestle would be sharing learnings and best practices in this domain with the objective to achieve scale and more speed.

Nestle, she said, had built three schools with computer units, many water pumps and village resource centres for some of the communities in which they operate.

Nestle’s Cocoa Action Plan, she said, was made up of the productivity package that consisted of training, new planting material and fertiliser as well as a community development package focused on education, gender parity and child labour.

Our ambition is to prevent and eliminate all forms of child labour from our supply chain, while respecting family situations and the legitimate need for rural development,” she added.

Ms Martinez noted that Nestlé Research & Development (R&D) Centre in Abidjan serving the whole of Africa, with innovation, research and development solutions for the company demonstrated Nestlé’s commitment to Africa and to partnering with its operating companies on the continent to provide R&D solutions.

“In Ghana we will work closely with Cocobod and CRIG (Cocoa Research Institute Ghana) to transfer our technology, which has recently become a Research Centre for Cocoa serving the whole of West Africa. This demonstrates the enormous socio- economic benefit that regional integration can bring”, she added.
Source: GNA

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