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The Hershey-funded CocoaLink Program Positively Impacted The Livelihoods Of Ghanaian Cocoa Farmers, According To A Three-year Independent Study. (Graphic: Business Wire)

The Hershey Company (NYSE:HSY):

  • Hershey-sponsored program registered 45,000 Ghanaian cocoa farmers in 1,800 communities; farmers used 1.2 million free local language texts to modernize their farming practices
  • Farmers in CocoaLink communities increased their yields by 45.6% in three years
  • “I made many improvements on my farm and I am growing more cocoa today than before I started with CocoaLink,” Ghana farmer, Central Ghana

The Hershey Company (NYSE:HSY) announced today the release of The CocoaLink Impact Evaluation in Ghana, a three-year study which concluded that the Hershey-sponsored mobile phone training program “significantly improved the behavior and livelihoods” of cocoa farmers who receive weekly messages on best farming and labor practices.

The evaluation showed the positive impact this innovative program has had in modernizing cocoa farming in Ghana, the second largest producer of cocoa in the world. CocoaLink is a breakthrough program created by Hershey, the Ghana Cocoa Board and the World Cocoa Foundation that recognizes the value public-private partnerships have in addressing the complex challenges of modernizing the West African cocoa sector.

Key Outcomes and Learnings

CocoaLink was managed in Ghana by World Education with technology support from Dream Oval, a Ghana software firm. Farmers in CocoaLink used weekly messages to supplement training from agricultural extension agents.

The evaluation was conducted by an agricultural researcher from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana and compared CocoaLink users versus non-users in 15 Ghanaian cocoa villages.

The impact study showed statistically significant improvements for CocoaLink users in agricultural and social knowledge and practices, including:

  • CocoaLink farmers improved cocoa yield and associated income in 2013 with cocoa output 10 percent greater than control communities studied. Overall, CocoaLink farmers increased their yields by 45.6 percent over a three year period.
  • Eighty-eight percent of CocoaLink farmers received conservation training compared to sixty-eight percent of non-CocoaLink farmers.
  • Sixty-five percent of CocoaLink farmers received basic literacy training—thirty-five percent higher than non-CocoaLink farmers.
  • Sixty-five percent of CocoaLink farmers received bookkeeping training—twenty-five percent higher than non-CocoaLink farmers.

Other CocoaLink improvements include:

  • Increase in general knowledge of cocoa production.
  • Highest improvements in planting information, spraying and fertilizer application.
  • Greater understanding of appropriate and safe practices for children in cocoa communities.
  • Improved agricultural practices in pruning, weeding and use of protective gear for spraying.

Surveyed farmers also indicated they viewed the information provided by CocoaLink as trustworthy and practical.

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