Mars, ECOOKIM and Fairtrade launched a new cocoa farmer livelihoods program, the ‘Livelihoods Ecosystem Advancement Program’ (LEAP) in what they believe could be a comprehensive effort to address barriers to cocoa farmers’ ability to achieve a living income.
The program was co-created by ECOOKIM farmer members, Mars and Fairtrade and aims to support 5000 smallholder farmers in Côte d’Ivoire to promote a living income by 2030.
Findings from the initiative will be used to create a “blueprint of interventions” that can be scaled across the cocoa supply chain.
“This program takes a holistic approach and seeks to address all elements necessary for a Living Income, rather than treating them in isolation or searching for ‘silver bullets’,” said Aminata Bamba, Head of Sustainability at ECOOKIM.
“Farmers may know best what needs to be done to improve their crops and their livelihoods but might not have the market support to make those changes,” added Aminata Bamba.
Most cocoa today is grown on small family farms with little access to electricity, clean water, reliable roads or quality schools. Compounding these challenges are negative effects of climate change and market failures, such as underdeveloped cooperative management practices and lack of alternative income sources. As a consequence, this can leave cocoa farmers in poverty, unable to invest or grow their businesses.
Establishing there is no ‘average’ cocoa farmer, the program will focus on creating person-centric developments that recognise the different starting points and ambitions of each cocoa farmer. The program will establish the most impactful interventions for improving living income for more than 5000 cocoa farmers across three priority areas:
- Strengthening farmer cooperatives and market access for cocoa and non-farm goods
- Diversifying farmers’ incomes so farmers are less dependent on cocoa and can make money from other sources
- Expanding access to financial services so farmers can invest in their farms and their futures
“Our goal of creating a more inclusive, modern and sustainable cocoa supply chain can only be achieved if farmers are fairly rewarded for their crucial role in producing the cocoa used in beloved chocolate brands,” said Anne-Marie Yao, Director for Public Affairs for West Africa. “That’s why we developed our Cocoa for Generations strategy and it’s why today we’re working with Fairtrade and ECOOKIM to develop an ambitious blueprint that may be scaled to enhance farm resilience and support cocoa farmers on a path to a living income.”
Stay up-to-date on the latest industry news and developments in our magazine.