Hershey Learn To Grow Program Improves Farmer Livelihoods, Expands Supply Of Certified Cocoa

Hershey Learn To Grow Program Improves Farmer Livelihoods, Expands Supply Of Certified Cocoa

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014 - 9:45am

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CONTENT: Press Release

  • 1,465 Trained Farmers Now Growing UTZ Certified Cocoa
  • 33 Percent of Program Farmers are Women
  • Launching Phase II to Expand Program to 21,000 Farmers
  • GPS Farm Mapping and CocoaLink Mobile Phone Programs Improve Farmer Yields   

HERSHEY, Pa., May 6, 2014 /3BL Media/ - The Hershey Company (NYSE: HSY) announced today that 18 months after launching its innovative HERSHEY LEARN TO GROW program in Ghana to help increase the incomes and improve living standards for more than 1,400 cocoa farm families, the program has delivered significant results for farmers, families and the cocoa sector in the region.   Hershey also announced that it is expanding its HERSHEY LEARN TO GROW program by launching Phase II, which extends the program to all of Ghana’s cocoa-growing regions. This will increase the number of participating farmers from its current 1,465 to more than 21,000 across Ghana. 

Expanding Ghana’s Certified Cocoa Supply
A highlight of the program’s first results report is that all 1,465 participating farmers in Ghana’s Assin Fosu region passed their first year UTZ audit and are now growing UTZ certified cocoa, adding additional third-party certified cocoa volume to the region’s cocoa supply.  Hershey previously committed to using 100 percent certified cocoa in its products worldwide by 2020.  In 2013, 18 percent of the cocoa Hershey purchased globally was certified, nearly double its original goal of 10 percent for the year.  The company plans to increase to between 40 and 50 percent by 2016 on its path to 100 percent by 2020.  

“The HERSHEY LEARN TO GROW program has exceeded our expectations and shown how a package of training programs, including business knowledge and good agricultural practices, can meaningfully change the lives of cocoa farmers, their families and their communities,” said Terence O’Day, Senior Vice President, Chief Supply Chain Officer at The Hershey Company.  “The program has proven we can substantially improve productivity, family incomes and labor practices while increasing cocoa quality.  We are pleased to be working with our partner in Ghana – Source Trust – to expand Learn to Grow to 20,000 more farmers who will all benefit from the training that has proven so successful in Phase I.”

Learn to Grow farmers are also enrolling in the CocoaLink mobile phone learning program sponsored by Hershey.  CocoaLink provides farmers with weekly text and voice messages on farm modernization as well as information about health, safety and labor.  CocoaLink has enrolled more than 45,000 Ghana cocoa farmers since mid-2011. 

Certification Helps Increase Farmer Incomes 
During the first year of the HERSHEY LEARN TO GROW program, farmers were educated on appropriate farming and labor practices and some underwent corrective actions that brought their farms up to UTZ standards, including adequate record-keeping and proper use and disposal of only approved crop protection products.  UTZ is third-party certifier that focuses on helping farmers to learn better farming methods, improve working conditions, generate more income and create better opportunities for their families, and take better care of their children and the environment.

The program also mapped the cocoa farms of participating farmers using GPS technology, which allowed them for the first time to understand the precise size of their farms and enabled them to use the optimal amounts of fertilizers and other farm inputs.  GPS mapping also revealed the age of farmers’ trees and allowed them to develop a plan to gradually replace older, low-productive trees with newer ones that can begin producing higher cocoa yields in three years.

“The cocoa program has changed my ways of growing cocoa,” said Yaw Amponsah, a 51-year-old farmer from the Assin Jakai region who is married and has four children.  “I’ve learned a lot from this program. I didn’t know how to plant this modern type of cocoa.  I was using the old ways. Now I have learned how to increase my production. I’ve learned the exact acreage of my farms and know how much fertilizer I have to buy. This has saved me a lot of money.”

Gender Balance
Phase II will also seek to maintain a high participation rate for women farmers with a goal of 33 percent women registered farmers, a level of gender balance which was achieved in Phase I and confirmed in the program’s yearend 2013 progress report. 

Phase II Adds 20,000 Farmers
In addition to expanding the program across all of Ghana’s cocoa-growing regions and adding 20,000 new farmers, HERSHEY LEARN TO GROW Phase II will include Geotraceability.  This program involves tagging and tracking individual bags through the entire supply chain to understand where products came from and to access records about how they are produced. 

HERSHEY LEARN TO GROW Phase II is a partnership program with the World Cocoa Foundation and is part of the long-term Cocoa Livelihoods Program in West Africa cocoa growing regions supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Farming as a Modern Business
Another goal of Phase II is to teach farmers how to develop a business plan for their farms and how to manage their farms as a business, rather than simply a cash crop.  The program includes helping farmers diversify their farm and integrate a food crop amongst the cocoa trees to bring biodiversity to the farm and generate an additional source of income.  These modern farm management techniques are designed to appeal to younger farmers and help attract the next generation of farmers from the young adults living in the local villages. HERSHEY LEARN TO GROW also supports farmer and family education through a computer lab in Assin Fosu that supplements school curriculum and shows farmers modern growing methods.  

One of the biggest challenges for cocoa farms across West Africa is the replacement of aging cocoa trees that are near the end of their productivity.  Farmers are being taught to begin planting new trees and removing aging trees, even though this can reduce yields in the short term, it increases yields in the long term.  HERSHEY LEARN TO GROW has also created a cocoa seedling nursery to provide free trees for the program’s farmers and to help with the ongoing rejuvenation of farms in the region. 

Sharing Goodness in Hershey’s CSR Report  
The HERSHEY LEARN TO GROW program is one of several elements of the company’s 21st Century Cocoa Strategy, the company’s roadmap helping cocoa communities around the world grow sustainable cocoa for the next century.  Details about the strategy are featured in Hershey’s third CSR report, released last week, which showcases the company’s progress on cocoa sustainability programs in West Africa and around the world.  The report provides details on how farmers have benefited from Hershey’s programs that support the modernization of cocoa farming in West Africa.

The HERSHEY LEARN TO GROW farmer and family development center first launched in Assin Fosu, Ghana’s central cocoa region, in 2012.  The program was established to improve farmer livelihoods through good agricultural, environmental, social and business practices training; access to improved planting material; and finance for farm inputs with the goal to double productivity yield and farm income over four years.

The program expanded into Nigeria in mid-2013 through a public and private partnership with IDH (The Sustainable Trade Initiative) and Source Trust. In Nigeria, the program is working to provide 20,000 cocoa farmers with advanced training to improve the quality of their cocoa and increasing farmer income by at least 30 percent.  Hershey Learn to Grow Nigeria will also provide Geotraceability and business and finance training to farmers so they are able to access credit to improve their farms. 

About The Hershey Company
The Hershey Company (NYSE: HSY), headquartered in Hershey, Pa., is a global confectionery leader known for bringing goodness to the world through its chocolate, sweets, mints and other great-tasting snacks. Hershey has approximately 13,000 employees around the world who work every day to deliver delicious, quality products. The company, which has more than 80 brands around the world that drive over $7.1 billion in annual revenues, includes such iconic brand names as Hershey's, Reese's, Hershey's Kisses, Jolly Rancher and Ice Breakers. Hershey is focused on growing its presence in key international markets while continuing to build its competitive advantage in North America. Additionally, Hershey is poised to expand its portfolio into categories beyond confectionery, finding new ways to bring goodness to people everywhere.

At Hershey, goodness has always been about more than delicious products. For 120 years, Hershey has been committed to good business by operating fairly, ethically and sustainably to make a positive impact on society.  This means contributing to a better life for its employees, consumers, communities, and, ultimately, creating a bright future for children in need.  This commitment is exemplified by Milton Hershey School, established in 1909 by the company's founder and administered by Hershey Trust Company. The children who attend the school receive education, housing, and medical care — thriving as direct beneficiaries of The Hershey Company's success.

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Jeff Beckman
+1 (717) 534-8090