Providing Critical Support to Cocoa Farmers and Communities to Face COVID-19

Progress Blog
Providing Critical Support to Cocoa Farmers and Communities through COVID-19

Cedric van Cutsem, Associate Director Cocoa Life, Operations, Mondelēz International

At Cocoa Life, making cocoa right means tackling the challenges faced by the farmers that grow our cocoa, their families and their communities. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the health and wellbeing of these communities - across all our cocoa growing countries - has been our utmost priority.

In a previous statement, we set out the three-tiered approach we were taking to protect those at the heart of our program, including the relief efforts by Mondelēz International as well as the industry fund convened by the World Cocoa Foundation. Now, as 2020 draws to a close, we want to put a spotlight on the actions our teams have been taking around the world, working hand-in-hand with cocoa growing communities, governments, NGOs and supply chain partners to respond to the pandemic.

Our approach focused on income continuity, information and resource distribution as well as community protection to address the main challenges faced - including school closures, lack of sanitation, increased costs of living and lack of group trainings due to social distancing. In line with the need on the ground, we activated existing support networks to reach more than 1.2 million community members by distributing critical resources to Cocoa Life communities - including over 2,600 portable hand washing stations, over 30,000 sanitizers and hand soaps, and more than 79,000 face masks. In Indonesia and India, we also distributed over 6,500 household wash kits and more than 10,000 food aid packages. Since then, we have listened and responded, tailoring action to meet community needs.

Play the following video and see our teams and partners in action.

“We would like to thank all the partners who have worked with us to support the men and women who grow our cocoa. This work would not have been possible without the strong collaboration on the ground, and we are committed to continuing our work, empowering cocoa farming communities for future developments, and creating a sustainable future for cocoa.”

Cathy Pieters, Senior Director Sustainable Ingredients & Cocoa Life, Mondelēz International

Tailoring interventions to meet local needs in our six cocoa growing countries

Ghana: our work led to Mondelēz International being named a ‘COVID19 Hero’
Through a number of partnerships, we equipped 785,000 community members with critical tools including guidelines on addressing gender issues during COVID-19, mobile libraries to support children’s education, and innovative technology to ensure safe farmer trainings could continue. Existing women’s groups in Cocoa Life communities quickly pivoted efforts to produce soaps and sew face masks, demonstrating how prior program trainings enabled communities to face the crisis. And with the support of the Cadbury Foundation, we are helping build solar powered water and sanitation facilities in 30 cocoa communities.

Côte d'Ivoire: a focus on distribution of equipment and communication
Our priority in Côte d'Ivoire was equipping schools and health centres with protection kits, alongside critical awareness raising and communications activities that ensured over 372,000 people had access to the latest health advice. And through Côte d’Or’s partnership with the Belgian Football Association, we are supporting individual youth by donating shirts and other materials from the Belgian Red Devils.

Indonesia: supporting the continuation of cocoa production
Our interventions reached more than 38,900 community members in Indonesia, including providing daily food and health supplies to vulnerable communities. We also purchased 86,000 cocoa seedlings from local nursey owners to secure their income. These seedlings were then distributed to farmers for free, to support them in continuing cocoa production.

Dominican Republic: looking to mid-term rural recovery
By ensuring our cocoa communities were included in a national survey on mid-term recovery, we have supported the integration of initiatives into nine Community Action Plans, alongside holding workshops on business management - all of which will support rural recovery in the mid to long term.

India: prioritising wellbeing and community spirit
In India, we provided wellbeing support and counselling to more than 5,300 community members, and distributed ration kits and essentials to those in need. To keep community spirits high, we organized online events including drawing competitions and hand-wash challenges.

Brazil: working closely with health services
Our focus in Brazil was ensuring the health and safety of communities in 72 municipalities - through engaging with health services, purchasing equipment and sanitizers, and collaborating with supplier buying stations to organize distribution logistics.