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 providing 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, to provide a multi-faceted approach to address cocoa farmer poverty, support sustainable farming practices and mitigate the risk of child labour.
“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,” explained 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, working in partnership with the Rainforest Alliance will distribute mobile cash transfers of up to US$600 per household per year to approximately 5000 cocoa farming households within its supply chain.
With the support of CARE and cocoa farmer cooperatives, the company plans to strengthen approximately 200 existing 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 savings per participant within three years of them becoming a VSLA member.
“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 poverty reduction strategies aimed at increasing incomes and supporting farmer practices. With increased incomes and more professionalised operations, farming households are less likely to rely on children for hazardous work and are more likely to have enhanced food security and additional resources.
“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,” added Nanga Kone, Country Director for Côte d’Ivoire at the Rainforest Alliance. “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 Income Accelerator is expected to positively impact no fewer than 20,000 households. To measure and evaluate progress, Hershey will use tools and expertise provided by a Learning Advisory Committee made up of Sustainable Food Lab and chaired by the Conseil du Café-Cacao.
The company has said updates on the program’s progress will be provided on its website and in its annual ESG report.
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