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Nestlé pledges to improve sustainable farming practices, end child labour

(Source: Bigstock)

Tackling child labour risks head on, Nestlé has launched a new income accelerator program to improve the livelihood of cocoa-farming families. 

Under the initiative, a cash incentive will be paid directly to cocoa-farming households for activities like enrolling children in school and pruning among several others. These incentives are on top of the premium introduced by the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana and the premium price Nestlé offers for certified cocoa. The program aims to build ‘social and economic resilience’ over time and are on top of measures introduced by the governments.

Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider addressed the issue highlighting the impact of widespread poverty among cocoa-farming communities and the efforts taken to close income gaps over time. 

“Building on our longstanding efforts to source cocoa sustainably, we will continue to help children go to school, empower women, improve farming methods and facilitate financial resources. 

“We believe that, together with governments, NGOs and others in the cocoa industry, we can help improve the lives of cocoa farming families and give children the chance to learn and grow in the safe and healthy environment they deserve,” he said.

Nestlé aims to secure full traceability of cocoa products and expand sustainability efforts by investing US$1.4 billion by 2030, tripling its current annual income. Under the program, families will be able to earn about $540 annually for the first two years and the incentive will be levelled to about $270 after tangible results are achieved. 

“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, executive VP and head of operations.

Payments under the program will be delivered via a secure mobile service transfer to the intended recipient. They are only distributed when they are needed the most, like the back-to-school period and during the rainy season. 

Based on an initial pilot in 2020, Nestlé plans to expand the program to 10,000 families in the Côte d’Ivoire before extending it to Ghana in 2024. By 2030, the company wants to include all cocoa farming families in its global cocoa supply chain. Nestlé says its robust monitoring and remediation system has already assisted 149,443 children and protected them from the risk of child labour. Furthermore, 53 schools have been built and refurbished. 

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