Ban on Hershey operating its sustainability programmes lifted in Ivory Coast

The ban on Hershey’s sustainability activities in Ivory Coast has been lifted, as the business reaffirms its commitment to the country’s Living Income Differential (LID) for enhanced payment of farmers, writes Neill Barston.

According to the US-based confectionery major, the business has had dialogue with cocoa authorities in the region, following reports that the manufacturer had engaged in buying quantities of cocoa on the New York Futures market, normally reserved for financial traders.

Ivory Coast’s Conseil du Cafe-Cacao had issued a joint instruction with Ghana’s Cocoa Board just last week that suspended the business operating its existing key sustainability programmes supporting farming communities, which has now seemingly been resolved, though Ghana has yet to confirm whether it will follow suit.

Under the recently introduced LID scheme which is applied to the 2020/21 cocoa crop season in West Africa, manufacturers pay a premium of $400 per tonne of cocoa, which authorities believe is a valuable step towards farmers gaining a viable wage from the industry. Many operating within the sector fall significantly below the UN-defined poverty level.

Confectionery Production spoke to Hershey on the situation, and the business explained that it is set to continue further talks to ensure that its community engagement work for the entire region is able to continue.

A spokesperson for the confectionery business said: “Hershey’s commitment to improving cocoa farmer livelihoods and ensuring a long-term sustainable cocoa supply is unwavering. Solving the many challenges within cocoa production, such as low incomes, poverty, child labor and environmental protection will be possible only through collaboration and cooperation across industry, governments, and civil society. We look forward to continuing to engage with the governments of Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana in the spirit of our longtime mutual collaboration and partnership to advance our shared goals.

“We are fully participating in the LID for cocoa purchases already made from the 2020/2021 crop as we buy a substantial supply sourced from Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. And we will continue to participate in the LID to support cocoa farmer livelihoods going forward. We recognise the importance and the value of the LID as a means to reach and improve the lives of farmers across the entire Ivorian and Ghanaian cocoa farming industry, not just the ones directly involved in our programs.

“Industry sustainability programs, such as ours, complement and strengthen efforts to positively impact cocoa-growing communities and we remain ready, willing and able to continue these important program such as child labor monitoring and remediation, farmer training, environmental protection, and childhood nutritional supplements. We are eager to move ahead with our sustainability programs so farmers continue to receive the benefits provided by our on-the-ground programs as well as the price premium for certified cocoa.”

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