Farmers are important to Nestlé. As the world’s biggest food and beverage company, Nestlé relies on millions of farmers around the world to supply agricultural raw materials needed for its products.
Globally, Nestlé works with more than 695 000 farmers, mainly smallholders, who provide the company with high-quality raw materials. These farmers and farm workers are essential to the ongoing success of the company.
Nestlé is committed to contributing to the sustainable development of the rural communities where it sources from. In these communities, farmers are given agricultural support and benefit from capacity-building programmes to increase yields, crop quality and income levels.
In Ghana, Nestlé has been working with cocoa and cereal farmers for years in order to help them improve their agricultural practices and develop their communities.
Together with the Northern Rural Growth Programme of the Ministry of Food and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Nestlé has developed a training programme to help farmers increase the quality of cereals, in particular maize and millet, used to produce Cerelac infant cereal at its Tema factory.
The company was previously unable to use locally sourced grains in its infant foods because it did not meet Nestlé’s strict specifications. This was mainly due to the cereals being contaminated by mycotoxins, fungal-based toxic compounds which are hard to get rid of when they enter the food-chain.
Through Nestlé’s Grains Quality Improvement Project (GQIP), more than 50,000 farmers, including 24,000 women, 1,200 agriculture extension officers, have been trained on field and in ‘classroom type’ activities on how to address these challenges. Also, mobile cinemas were set up in communities to show a drama that reinforces the messages, farmers received during their training sessions.
This has allowed farmers produce good quality grains for home consumption and for industrial use by companies like Nestlé.
One of the female farmers who benefitted from the training in the Northern Region, Samata Alidu, stated that the training has given her the opportunity to have a better, healthier yield and income. “I can now pay my children’s school fees and afford to sew school uniforms. And I even have some extra income,” she said. She has doubled her maize production and cut out waste. “The impact on our community has been immense”, she added.
Through the Nestlé Cocoa Plan, Nestlé aims at addressing issues within the cocoa value chain by enabling farmers to run profitable farms, improving social conditions of farming communities and sourcing good quality, sustainable cocoa.
In Ghana, the Plan is implemented in partnership with Source Trust, ECOMS and Transmar and is closely working with the communities where Nestlé sources cocoa since 2009. Over 13,000 farmers have already been trained with good agricultural practices, three schools and eight boreholes have been constructed. In total 14,000 cocoa growing community members have benefited from the Plan in the Eastern and Ashanti regions.
“At first when I cultivated 10 acres of cocoa, I got only 50 bags but now I harvest over 100-200 bags. Sometimes, I even get 500 bags. The training on good agricultural practices has really helped me”, said Comfort Berkoe, a cocoa farmer from Suhum.
In addition to improving agricultural practices, Nestlé is working with its long-standing partner, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), to improve water access and hygiene in these communities.
Programmes like this highlight the importance of the National Farmers’ Day, which is commemorated every year on the first Friday of December to honour Ghana’s Farmers and Fishers to underline the position they occupy in the country’s socio-economic development.