MINNEAPOLIS, Dec. 1, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- When we pop a piece of chocolate into our mouths, most of us aren't thinking about the supply chain that converts cocoa beans into delicious treats. But Cargill does. The company's work to improve livelihoods for cocoa farmers and their families in Africa, Asia and South America just earned it the U.S. Chamber Business Civic Leadership Center (BCLC) 2010 International Community Service award.
"This is a great example of the way Cargill goes above and beyond the call of duty, wherever it does business, and is one of the keys to its success and sustainability," said U.S. Chamber BCLC Executive Director Stephen Jordan. "Cargill's support for cocoa farmers illustrates how it does well by doing good. That's why we're proud to honor Cargill with the 2010 International Community Service Award."
The International Community Service award recognizes an honoree for contributing to positive economic and social development in a country outside the United States.
"We're honored to have our efforts to raise living standards and strengthen communities recognized by the U.S. Chamber," said Greg Page, Cargill chairman and chief executive officer, accepting the award at the 11th Annual BCLC Corporate Citizenship Awards dinner, Nov. 30, in Washington, D.C. "We want to acknowledge, as well, our partners in these efforts. Partnering with non-governmental organizations, local governments, customers and industry magnifies our efforts to enrich rural communities."
Cargill is a major originator and processor of cocoa beans and producer of high quality chocolate. The company is training thousands of farmers in better agricultural practices in Brazil, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Indonesia and Vietnam. The result can be higher incomes and standards of living for farm families. Meanwhile, Cargill gains more reliable partners and a more dependable and higher quality supply of cocoa beans.
For example, we are now coordinating 300 Farmer Field Schools in Cote d'Ivoire. More than 25,000 farmers will participate in various Cargill-supported training programs this year. The efforts will expand to support tens of thousands of more farmers over coming years as part of a three-year, $5-million commitment to support sustainable cocoa in Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana.
Charles Yao Yao is one of those farmers. Production was not always good when he started his cocoa farm in Cote d'Ivoire at age 22. Three years ago, Yao began attending Cargill's Farmer Field Schools, which are free to participants. He learned how to properly use pesticides and fertilizers and now understands why a sanitary harvest and good field maintenance are important. Since then, his yield per hectare (about 2.5 acres) has increased by more than 50 percent. Other farmers in the area have seen higher yields and improved crop quality with incomes ultimately rising by an average of 30 percent.
The Farmer Training Schools are also enabling farmer cooperatives to achieve UTZ Certification in Cote d' Ivoire, which helps small-scale farmers improve agricultural, environmental and social practices in cocoa production. The UTZ Certified cocoa program was co-founded by Cargill, along with the Dutch development organization, Solidaridad, and others in the cocoa sector to help ensure that cocoa is grown sustainably.
Full details about all BCLC award winners and their corporate citizenship programs are available online at www.uschamber.com/bclc/awards.
Cargill is an international producer and marketer of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services. Founded in 1865, the privately held company employs 131,000 people in 66 countries. Cargill helps customers succeed through collaboration and innovation, and is committed to applying its global knowledge and experience to help meet economic, environmental and social challenges wherever it does business. For more information, visit www.cargill.com.