Nestlé is empowering women farmers in Central and West Africa: farmers’ insights

Nestlé is continuing to empower smallholder farmers, in particular women, in Central and West Africa by providing them with farming support, agricultural training and technical expertise.

The company is engaging with female farmers and their communities in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria by rolling out a number of its worldwide initiatives including the Nestlé Cocoa Plan and the Nescafé Plan, as well as the regional Grains Quality Improvement Project.

Through these schemes, Nestlé is committed to scaling up its activities to boost training and technical skills for women in rural areas. 

Its work with women farmers reinforces its support for the Women’s Empowerment Principles, a set ofseven steps that businesses can take to advance gender equality and empower women to participate fully in economic life in three key areas – workplace, marketplace and community.

Nestlé efforts also highlight the significance of the United Nations’ International Day of Rural Women on October 15, which annually recognises “the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.”

Cocoa farmer insight

Nestlé is committed to supporting cocoa farmers in the region through the Nestlé Cocoa Plan, a CHF 110 million ten-year pledge introduced in 2009, to provide higher quality cocoa plantlets to farmers and to make the cocoa supply chain more traceable. Helping women to play a bigger role in cocoa is also a focus.

As part of the plan, the ‘Nestlé Action Plan on Women in the Cocoa Supply Chain’ was launched recently as the company’s first commodity-specific initiative to strengthen its support for women in the supply chain.

The action plan – which focuses on gender issues, aims to improve the lives of women working in the cocoa communities in Côte d’Ivoire.

50-year-old Agathe Vanié is just one of the thousands of farmers in Côte d’Ivoire taking part in the Nestlé Cocoa Plan.

The mother-of-four led a campaign to increase the inclusion of women in cocoa farming and positively impact on families and the region, which resulted in the creation of the Association of Female Coffee-Cocoa Producers of Sud-Bandama (AFPCC SB).

This led to the formation of COPAZ in 2003, an agricultural cooperative based in Divo in central-western Côte d'Ivoire.

Since 2009, the cooperative has received 380,000 high-yield disease-tolerant cocoa seedlings and technical assistance from Nestlé agronomists and research experts.

‘Future with great hope’

"Thanks to our collaboration with Nestlé, we’re now looking towards the future with great hope,” said Agathe. “Women are now seen as a major force in the development of our villages.”

The partnership has enabled her to attract more women – and men – to join her cooperative, which currently boasts more than 200 farmers, of which half are women.

Nestlé has helped Agathe’s cooperative to buy a truck, which is vital for collecting cocoa beans from other cooperative members in several villages during harvest season.

“Thanks to Nestlé, we’re able to harvest the production of the cocoa plants distributed since 2010, and pick up the cocoa beans in the new truck,” she added. “We are beginning an important phase of our project to empower women.”


Coffee farmer insight

Nestlé has reinforced it commitment to farmers in Côte d’Ivoire by rolling out the ten-year Nescafé Plan, part of the company’s CHF 500 million investment in coffee projects launched in 2010, that brings together its pledge on sustainable coffee farming, production, supply and consumption.

As part of the plan, Nestlé is currently working with the Rainforest Alliance, Agence Nationale d’appui au Développement Rural (ANADER), Centre National de Recherche Agronomique (CNRA), and other external coffee sustainable programmes including Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), Sustainable Agriculture Initiative, Fairtrade, and UTZ Certified.

With the support of the Common Code for the Coffee Community Association (4C), of which Nestlé is a founding member, it brings together producers, trade, industry, civil society and companies to work together on advancing sustainability across the coffee sector.

Nestlé aims to meet its global goal of sourcing 180,000 tonnes of coffee by 2015 from Farmer Connect programmes, in line with 4C’s sustainability standard.

In 2013, the company is already making headway by buying more than 148 000 tonnes in 2013 in the countries where the Nescafé Plan has been launched including Côte d’Ivoire.

By 2020, Nestlé also aims to meet its commitment to source 90,000 tonnes of coffee that is compliant with the SAN principles and distribute 220 million plantlets.

So far, Nestlé is on course to meet its targets by providing Ivorian farmers with over 10 million high-yielding disease-resistant plantlets developed by its research and development teams.


‘Reliable source of income’

Coffee farmer Assi Hue Koua, 53, of Yaoukro in Côte d’Ivoire has already received a hectare of high-yield coffee plantlets from Nestlé.

After inheriting a coffee plantation from her late husband six years ago, Assi began work with a Nescafé Plan agronomist last year.

“Nestlé helps us to implement better practices and we are looking forward to seeing the results of a better harvest,” said the mother-of-seven.

Assi is dedicated to Nestlé’s 4C sustainable practices, which have resulted in premium coffee, and in turn, a good source of income.

“Coffee has become a reliable source of income and allows me to care for my children so they can all go to school,” she added.

Improving grains

Nestlé is also actively supporting and training farmers in Ghana and Nigeria through the Grains Quality Improvement Project (GQIP), which was launched in 2007 to tackle mycotoxin contamination in collaboration with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

Mycotoxin is a natural, fungus-based contamination that can cause immune problems, impaired development in children, and liver damage in both humans and animals. Up to 30% of cereal crops are lost to contamination, caused largely by the humid environment and poor drying and storage practices.

About 56,000 West African farmers, among those are 24,000 women, have been trained since 2007 to help reduce mycotoxin contamination levels in Ghana and Nigeria.

Maize farming life

Alidu Samata, a 40-year-old maize farmer in Gushie, Ghana, joined Nestlé’s GQIP in 2010.

She is one of the 24,000 women who have received training on the project to improve their capacity and their livelihoods.

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

“I can now pay for my children’s school fees,” said Alidu. “I can also afford to make their school uniforms now I have extra income.”

Nestlé’s work with farmers in Central and West Africa is part of its approach to business, which it calls ‘Creating Shared Value’.

The company is creating opportunities and improving livelihoods for the communities in which it operates, plus developing its own activities.

Its commitment to local farmers through rural development and responsible sourcing is just one of its 35 pledges that cover nutrition, water, rural development, environmental sustainability and compliance, which it aims to fulfil by 2020 or earlier. They form part of the Nestlé in Society report ‘Creating Shared Value and meeting our commitments 2013’.


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