DEERFIELD, Ill., June 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Mondelez International, Inc., (NASDAQ: MDLZ) the world's largest chocolate company with billion-dollar brands such as Milka and Cadbury, and global favorites Toblerone and Lacta, today announced an agreement with the Ivorian government's Conseil du Cafe Cacao (CCC) to help farmers increase sustainable cocoa production and create thriving communities in Cote d'Ivoire. Non-governmental organization CARE International will lead Cocoa Life projects in Ivorian cocoa communities through 2016.
"A sustainable cocoa supply begins with thriving farming communities, and more efficient farming leads to farmers' financial security," said Christine M. McGrath, Vice President of External Affairs and Cocoa Life at Mondelez International. "Partnering is key to creating lasting change through our Cocoa Life program, and together with the Ivorian government and CARE International, we're empowering cocoa farming families to create the kind of communities they and their children want to live in, while promoting gender equality."
As part of the agreement, Mondelez International's Cocoa Life has begun a pilot program in Cote d'Ivoire with CARE International working in 11 villages to help nearly 4,000 farmers boost their cocoa-growing productivity and improve the livelihoods of nearly 40,000 community members. Cocoa Life and CARE have already organized community meetings where farming families discuss their needs and priorities and create Community Action Plans to achieve specific development outcomes, such as expanding farmer field schools on cocoa growing. As gender equality is a key pillar of Cocoa Life, the program has held specific meetings for women farmers so their voices are heard in cocoa communities. Cocoa Life plans to get women more involved in farmer training, farming co-ops and community life, while providing them access to more diversified livelihoods to complement farming."At CARE, we know that business can play a vital role in tackling poverty and injustice," said Balla Sidibe, Country Director of CARE International in Cote d'Ivoire. "For a company like Mondelez International, that means seeing poor people as vital stakeholders in their long-term success by putting farmers and communities at the heart of their supply chain. By working together on Cocoa Life, we look forward to leveraging our experience and understanding of disadvantaged farmers from poor communities to bring about lasting for communities across Cote d'Ivoire and for the long-term benefit of the business itself." Cocoa Life also plans to work with the Ivorian government's agronomic research arm – CNRA - to fight crop diseases affecting cocoa trees, which has recently impacted cocoa farmers in Cote d'Ivoire. Mondelez International's research and development team is sharing its cocoa-growing know-how to help CNRA develop more productive and disease-resistant cocoa trees. Recently, the company's global Research & Development team spent a week in Cote d'Ivoire to lend its expertise. The group met with local experts to better understand specific, local challenges in the market and how to better collaborate and expand their work. Separately, Mondelez International plans to collaborate with ANANDER - the Ivorian agricultural extension agency - to boost its farmer training programs. Mondelez International's collaboration in Cote d'Ivoire is an important milestone for its Cocoa Life program, which last November made a $100 million commitment to help 75,000 Ivorian farmers double their productivity. In total, Cocoa Life is a $400 million, 10-year commitment to improve the livelihoods and living conditions of more than 200,000 cocoa farmers and about one million people in cocoa farming communities around the world.