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Report highlights decade of making positive impact in West Africa cocoa growing communities

CARE and Cargill have released a report titled ‘A Decade of Impact in Cocoa Communities: More than Ten Years of the CARE-Cargill Partnership’

The report details the CARE-Cargill partnership successes and learnings in supporting cocoa sustainability and building better lives for cocoa farmers and their families in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana.

CARE and Cargill have been working together in Ghana since 2008 and in Côte d'Ivoire since 2010 to combat the many challenges facing the cocoa sector. Through this partnership, CARE and Cargill have made a tangible positive difference for Ivorian and Ghanaian cocoa communities in a number of critical areas:

Well-governed communities: CARE and Cargill help communities develop action plans to mobilise funds and address pressing needs. To date, CARE and Cargill have supported the establishment of 275 community action plans, resulting in more than 160 community infrastructure improvements in both Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire, including the establishment of hydraulic pumps, construction of school facilities, and latrines.

Child labour prevention: CARE and Cargill have focused on preventive measures such as improved access to education for children. In Côte d'Ivoire, CARE and Cargill have trained parents and children on the harmful effects of child labour and created community development committees – governing bodies which aim to help communities develop solutions to challenges, including child labour. In Ghana, programmes have focused on the development of school-related infrastructure, rehabilitation, and child labour sensitisation.

Building production capacity and diversifying income: Through the Cargill Cocoa Promise, Cargill is working with 132,000 smallholder cocoa farmers to support their business development in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana. Between 2008 and 2013, CARE’s agricultural training package, combined with greater access to extension services and strong market linkage, led to a 29% increase in average farmer income among project-supported farmers in Ghana.

Women’s empowerment: In Ghana, CARE and Cargill’s support has created profound change for women. Women supported in CARE-Cargill programmes between 2016 and 2019 indicated a 30% increase in participation in household financial decision-making, an 18% increase in women holding formal leadership positions, and a 19% increase in opportunities to engage in formal decision-making spaces and to serve as leaders within the community.

Improving access to finance: Access to savings, loans, and other sources of credit is a core component to fostering prosperous and resilient communities. To date, CARE and Cargill have established 376 Village Savings Loan Associations (VSLAs) comprising 9,034 members (6,853 women) in Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire. Those VSLA members have saved US$301,186 while distributing US$189,014 in loans.

Ensuring food security and nutrition for families: Over the last decade, CARE and Cargill worked with communities to promote healthy nutrition practices through training and demonstration, while ensuring food security through strengthening farmer livelihoods. In Côte d'Ivoire between 2015 and 2018, the percentage of food shocks (loss of harvest) in the CARE-Cargill intervention area were 16% lower thanks to interventions, with some municipalities seeing a decrease of up to 65% in the frequency of food shocks. 

Households were also 33% more likely to eat fruits and vegetables three or more times per day than households outside of the intervention area. Between 2013-2016, programming in Ghana also contributed to a 12.5% reduction in household food insecurity. More than a third of farmers attributed changes in access to food to increased variety of local food, in addition to good farm health, increased revenue, training and education from CARE and Cargill and increased access to food on their farms.

Cargill has been working in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana for decades. In 2012, we launched the Cargill Cocoa Promise – our commitment to enable farmers and their communities to achieve better incomes and living standards. Longstanding partnerships like the one with CARE are crucial in achieving our commitments. They allow for sharing of data and learnings, help us to accelerate our impact and measure our progress,” said Harold Poelma, president of Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate.

CARE and Cargill have continued to evolve their approach over the past decade. The initial joint interventions focused on combating child labour, improving access to education, and economically empowering women. After this, CARE and Cargill also set out to improve access to agricultural inputs and access to financial services. Building on learnings, later programmes also emphasised income diversification, improved nutrition and climate resilience. CARE and Cargill, along with its other partners and global customers, have enabled continued learning to ensure positive impact.

“Our current programmes place women at the heart of our interventions because we know that with the right resources, women have the power to transform entire cocoa-growing communities. Through an integrated approach to food and nutrition security, CARE's work with Cargill focuses on providing women access to water, land, seeds, finance, and markets. Additionally, these programs provide nutrition and social protection in times of crisis, which is especially important in light of the effects of the current COVID-19 pandemic on cocoa-growing communities,” said Michelle Nunn, president and CEO at CARE.

West Africa is the largest producer of cocoa; Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana provide nearly 60% of the world’s cocoa. However, while cocoa smallholder farmers make up the backbone of both the Ivorian and Ghanaian economies and contribute significantly to the global cocoa supply, many still live in poverty. Farmers face critical challenges such as limited economic opportunity; sub-optimal agricultural production; lack of access to finances and services; persistent inequality; malnutrition; climate change; lack of access to education; risk of child labour; and insufficient water and sanitation practices.

CARE has partnered with Cargill to invest in the communities they operate for more than sixty years. Since its inception, the partnership has reached more than 2.7 million people through 25 projects in 11 countries, including Brazil, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Mali, Nicaragua, India, and Indonesia.