MINNEAPOLIS, Sept. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Charles Yao Yao started his cocoa farm in Cote d'Ivoire at age 22. Production was not always good. Three years ago, Yao began attending Cargill's free Farmer Field Schools. 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.
Yao's story is just one example of how Cargill is helping improve livelihoods for cocoa farmers and their families in Africa, Asia and South America. The company's efforts are now being recognized by the U.S. Chamber Business Civic Leadership Center (BCLC) as part of its 2010 Corporate Citizenship Awards program. BCLC has selected Cargill as one of five finalists in its International Community Service award category.
The awards recognize companies, chambers of commerce, and business associations for making positive contributions to their communities, advancing important economic and social goals, and demonstrating ethical leadership and sound stewardship. "The 2010 Corporate Citizenship Awards should put to rest any doubts about how much companies care about giving back to their communities," said BCLC Executive Director Stephen Jordan. "This year's finalists have made a difference on issues ranging from economic recovery to education to the environment."
Cargill is a major originator and processor of cocoa beans and producer of high quality chocolate. "We're honored to have our efforts to improve living standards and strengthen communities recognized by the U.S. Chamber," said Greg Page, Cargill chairman and chief executive officer. "Cocoa farmers are our partners in a complex supply chain that converts cocoa beans into an array of chocolate products. The success of the cocoa farmer today and in the future is essential to our success and the success of our customers."
Cargill is training thousands of farmers in better agricultural practices in Brazil, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Indonesia and Vietnam. Farmer training is coupled with transparent pricing information, support to strengthen farmers' cooperatives and assistance with crop transportation.
For example, in 2010 Cargill will coordinate 300 Farmer Field Schools in Cote d'Ivoire. The schools will train more than 10,000 farmers this year and will expand to support tens of thousands more farmers over coming years as part of a three-year $5 million commitment to support sustainable cocoa in Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana. As a result of the training, farmers have seen higher yields and improved crop quality with incomes ultimately rising an average of 30 percent.
The training is also enabling farmer cooperatives to achieve UTZ Certification, 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 a Dutch development organization and others in the cocoa sector, to help ensure that cocoa is grown sustainably.
Winners of the BCLC awards will be announced at the 11th Annual Corporate Citizenship Awards Dinner on November 30, 2010 in Washington, D.C. Full details about the finalists and their corporate citizenship 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.