International Day of Rural Women

The invaluable role of rural women in Central and West Africa

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Women are key contributors to local communities and development, and empowering them to have a reliable source of livlihoods helps to ensure long-term sustainable development that transforms their communities. In our efforts to empower and develop women, we recognise the role of rural women, by celebrating them on the United Nations International Day of Rural Women on October 15.

In Central and West Africa region, Nestlé supports women famers through initiatives like Nestlé Cereal Plan (formerly the Nestlé Grains Quality Improvement Programme), the Nestlé Cocoa Plan and the Nescafé Plan linked to our commitments to help develop thriving, resilient communities.

Transforming lives

Nestlé introduced the GQIP in Ghana and Nigeria in 2007 in collaboration with the Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture. In 2016, Nestlé entered into partnership with the USAID for capacity building for farmers on best agronomic practices in Ghana, under the Nestlé Cereal Plan.

The programme looks to help farmers, including women farmers to increase their yield and income by teaching them agronomic practices that reduce the high levels of mycotoxins in their production and increase the overall health of rural communities through the consumption of good quality and safe grains. The initiative also ensure local sourcing to build industry in Central and West Africa.

Samata Alidu was part of the Nestlé Grains Quality Improvement Project (GQIP) since 2010. This initiative was launched in the region to improve the quality and safety of grains like maize, millet and sorghum, which are used in our cereal products such as Golden Morn and Cerelac.

Samata who is based in the village of Gushie, in Ghana, used skills taught by Nestlé agronomists to transform her maize production of 4-5 bags per acre to 10-12 bags.

"The impact on our community has been immense,’’ she said. “I can now pay my children’s school fees and can afford to sew them school uniforms. I even have some extra income."

Developing women cocoa farmers

In Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, we are also supporting female cocoa farmers as part of our commitment to roll out the Nestlé Cocoa Plan, in partnership with the Fair Labor Association and International Cocoa Initiative.

In 2015, 27% of Nestlé Cocoa Plan nurseries were run by women, rising nine-fold since 2013.

Agathe Vanié is one of the hundreds of women who heads one of these sites. She is a cocoa farmer and President of COPAZ, a cocoa cooperative based in Divo in central-western Côte d'Ivoire, which is mainly composed of, and led by women. Her organisation, the Association of Female Coffee-Cocoa Producers of South Bandama, is the first female-owned cooperative for cocoa and coffee production.

In 2010, Agathe and her cooperative joined the Nestlé Cocoa Plan after hearing about its benefits to increase farmers’ profitability, secure high-quality cocoa, and address supply chain issues such as child labour, gender inequality and poor social conditions.

We provided her 600 women cooperative with high-yield, disease-resistant cocoa seedlings and the technical assistance necessary to set up a nursery, who in turn, create an invaluable role to agricultural development in the region.

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

Samata Alidu and Agathe Vanié are just one of the thousands of female farmers who are making a vital contribution to agricultural and rural development in Central and West Africa, after joining Nestlé’s farming programmes that aim to boost crop yields and income.

By 2030, we want to improve the lives of 30 million people living in communities directly connected to our business activities globally.

This pledge forms part of our three long-term ambitions and 42 commitments – in support of the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) – set out in the report ‘Nestlé in society: Creating Shared Value and meeting our commitments 2016’.

Read more about our commitment to developing thriving communities in the Nestlé in society global report 2016 (English PDF)