Empowering rural women in Central and West Africa: How does Nestlé do this?

Oct 14, 2016


Thousands of women in rural communities in Central andWest Africa are reaping the rewards from Nestlé’s agricultural support andcapacity-building programmes to increase their yields, crop quality and incomelevels.

The company, which relies on smallholder farmers andfarm workers to help supply agricultural raw materials needed for its products,is contributing to the sustainable development of rural areas where they workthrough initiatives such as the cocoa plan and the grains quality improvementproject.

Nestlé’s commitment to empower and support rural womenis part of its 39 pledges highlighted in the NestléCWAR – Nestlé in society report 2015 (English PDF) that covers nutrition, water, rural development,environmental sustainability and compliance, which it aims to fulfil by 2020 orearlier. 

Its efforts highlight the importance of the UnitedNation’s International Day of Rural Women on October 15, to recognise“the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women,in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security anderadicating rural poverty.”

Nestlé alsoaims to contribute to the UN SustainableDevelopment Goal 2 which seeks to “end hunger, achieve food security andimproved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.”

Supporting women 

Mother-of-three Agathe Vanié is one of the thousandsof women benefiting from the Nestlé CocoaPlan.

The company aims to rollout the Nestlé Cocoa Plan with cocoafarmers as part of its commitment to invest in rural communities. Active in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana since 2009, it looksto increasefarmers’ profitability, secure high-quality cocoa for Nestlé, and addresssupply chain issues such as child labour, gender inequality and poor socialconditions.

Cocoa farmer Agathe is also President of COPAZ, acocoa cooperative based in Divo in central-western Côte d'Ivoire, mainlycomposed of, and led by women.  

Her organisation, the Association of FemaleCoffee-Cocoa Producers of Sud-Bandama (AFPCC), is the first female ownedcooperative for cocoa and coffee production. In 2010, her cooperative joinedthe Nestlé Cocoa Plan.

“In our tradition, cocoafarming was only reserved for men. We fought to get portions of land from ourspouses and the Nestlé Cocoa Plan supports us,” said Agathe.

Nestlé, who works with partners such as the Fair LaborAssociation and International Cocoa Initiative as part of the Plan, hasprovided her 600 women cooperative with high-yield, disease-resistant cocoaseedlings and the technical assistance necessary to set up a nursery.

The company has also bought the cooperative a deliverytruck to help them distribute the cocoa beans.

Last year alone, 27% of Nestlé Cocoa Plan nurseries were run by women and 66 women’s groupswere helped through income-generating activities as part of the Plan.

Immense impact

Nestlé is also backing rural women by committing to increase local sourcing through its Grains Quality Improvement Project(GQIP). 

Launched in Ghana and Nigeria in 2007 with theMinistries of Agriculture and Rural Development and the International Instituteof Tropical Agriculture (IITA), it aims to improve the quality and safety ofgrains by reducing the high levels of mycotoxins and boost the overall healthof rural communities through the consumption of good quality and safe grains.

Maize farmer Alidu Samata, who is based in Ghanaianvillage of Gushie, Tamale, joined the Nestlé GQIP in 2010.

She is one of the thousands of female farmers who havereceived training on the project to improve their capacity and theirlivelihoods.

The mother-of-seven has been able to transform herproduction of 4-5 bags per acre to 10-12 bags, after using skills taught byNestlé agronomists.

"The impact on thecommunity has been immense,’’ said Alidu. “I can now pay my children’s schoolfees and can afford to sew them school uniforms. Now I even have some extraincome."