Nestlé has announced plans to subsidise schooling for up to 10,000 families in Ivory Coast to help reduce the incidence of child labour on cocoa plantations.
At the heart of its proposals is an income accelerator programme, which aims to improve the livelihoods of cocoa-farming families, while also advancing regenerative agriculture practices and gender equality.
Nestlé said the plan supported the company’s work to transform its global sourcing of cocoa to achieve full traceability and segregation. It also hopes to expand its school subsidies to Ghana in 2024 and could even extend it to all cocoa farming families in its global cocoa supply chain by 2030.
“A cash incentive will be paid directly to cocoa-farming households for certain activities such as enrolment of children in school,” according to Nestlé, which said the payments were to be separate to existing premiums paid for certified cocoa.
It added the incentives would “encourage behaviours and agricultural practices that are designed to steadily build social and economic resilience over time”.
With its new approach, cocoa-farming families would “now be rewarded not only for the quantity and quality of cocoa beans they produce but also for the benefits they provide to the environment and local communities”.
Cocoa farming communities faced “immense challenges, including widespread rural poverty, increasing climate risks and a lack of access to financial services and basic infrastructure like water, healthcare and education”, which all contributed to the risk of child labour on family farms.
“By increasing traceability at scale, we will help build consumer trust in our products and respond to the growing demand for responsibly and sustainably sourced cocoa,” said Magdi Batato, Nestlé executive vice president and head of operations.
The commitment feeds into Nestlé’s Cocoa Plan, which was first announced in 2009, and has the aim of “transforming the supply chain from one which has no traceability and layers of middlemen to one which is shorter and transparent”.
Data from The World Cocoa Foundation, an industry body, of which Nestlé is a member, last year showed chocolate and cocoa companies to be able to trace to source 74% of beans in direct supply chains back to Ivory Coast, the world’s biggest producer nation, and 82% in neighbouring Ghana, the second-largest.