Have you ever thought about the ingredients that make your favourite Cadbury Dairy Milk Slabs and the possible challenges the people that grow them face? With West African countries producing most of South Africa’s cocoa beans to produce the chocolate we’ve all come to love and enjoy — let’s shed light into cocoa farming sustainability and its challenges.

Without the next cocoa farming generation, there will be no cocoa – and without cocoa, we won’t have chocolate to indulge in. And that’s one of the many reasons Cadbury Dairy Milk is improving lives through sustainable cocoa farming and helping cocoa communities with education and other projects to empower them and inspire the next generation of cocoa farmers.

As part of Cadbury Dairy Milk and Cocoa Life media tour to spread the message about cocoa sustainability we had the opportunity to chat with Yaa Peprah Amekudzi, Country Lead of Mondelēz International Cocoa Life Program in Ghana about the importance of addressing challenges faced by cocoa farmers.

Yaa Peprah tells us that a huge percentage of the world’s cocoa is produced by West African farmers in countries like the Ivory Coast, and Ghana and that these farms responsible for over 70% of cocoa production are family-owned and very small in size.

She said that these farmers face some serious challenges with productivity due to a number of reasons that include the far-reaching implications of climate change and lack of interest from youth to get into farming and diseases that affect cocoa plants. For these reasons many farmers have seen decrease in production over the last few decades.

Yaa Peprah says that other challenges facing farmers and the community at large are gender inequality, poverty and child labor so as part of Cadbury Dairy Milk campaign with Cocoa Life to create sustainable cocoa farms and empower the communities — the program works on the ground, hand-in-hand with the men and women who grow Cadbury Dairy Milks’ chocolate’s essential ingredient.

Although the Cocoa Life journey to empower communities, improve and increase Cocoa productivity has been running since 2012, Cadbury Dairy Milk announced that the chocolate slabs sold across South Africa will bear the Cocoa Life logo as of July 2019 to make it easy to support the African countries that grow cocoa when they indulge on their favourite snack.

“Currently, approximately 45% of Cadbury chocolate in South Africa is made from Cocoa Life cocoa,” says Tamryn Seopela, Cadbury Tablets Brand Manager for Southern Africa, “and we are planning to make it 100% by 2025!”

According to Cadbury Cocoa Life grows opportunities for more than 142,000 cocoa farmers and 1,400 communities to date. The program focuses on the areas it can make the most difference: turning cocoa into a business of choice, creating inclusive and empowered communities and conserving and restoring forests.

Another thing to note is the micro finance opportunities they provide farmers, especially women, with funds for a broad range of investments, including the purchase of fertilizers, start-up capital for new businesses to secure additional streams of income, because as Yaa Prepah says it takes five years to grow a cocoa tree. These funds will also help with expansion of existing businesses, starting new cocoa farms, rehabilitating old cocoa farms, and hiring laborers.

“Cocoa is the essence of our chocolate and vital to our business, so we need to ensure it is ‘made right. The right starts where the cocoa is grown and that’s why we established Cocoa Life. It’s a program that’s quite comprehensive and addresses issues related to farming and the production of the cocoa,” says Yaa Peprah

“Making it right means tackling the complex challenges that unique community cocoa farmers face, including climate change, gender inequality, poverty and child labor. We have community development interventions in place. That for us makes all the difference, a long term relationship that brings about behavioral change which is important. Choosing the Cocoa Life logo means everyone can love our chocolate as much as we do, because it’s made the right way.”

Yaa Peprah says Cocoa Life is addressing these challenges across six cocoa-growing countries: Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Indonesia, Dominican Republic, India and Brazil. The Cocoa Life program has trained almost 150 000 farmers with new skills to grow better cocoa through introduction of technology and other methods of using chemicals responsibly.

The next time you enjoy your Cadbury Dairy Milk slab and you see the Cocoa Life stamp — stop and think about the people that made it possible to indulge in your favourite chocolate and know that you’re supporting a worthy cause.

I also had a few minutes to chat with Yaa about her background. Firstly she tells me about the meaning behind her name. She says that Yaa, from a tribe where she comes from, simply means that she’s a girl born on a Thursday and is a most commonly used name.

Yaa Peprah says she’s has studied extensively growing up. She first did a degree in business administration then went into the work environment and later went back to school to do a diploma in mass communication, following it was a masters in public health and eventually her MBA which she says was preparing her for the work she does now.

“I was working in the NGO sector when this opportunity presented itself, it resonated with me because it was not only about business, development, and the imperative side of it” — it became clear that it’s something she wanted to be a part of.

Lastly, Yaa said that as consumers we should always look out for how the products we enjoy are made, the resources they use and if the raw materials are sourced responsibly.

Previous post #ThisIsOurGrind: Here’s what we learnt from google’s CMO Mzamo Masito inspiring talk for #MandelaDay2019 with Nescafe
Next post Tsogo Sun Hotels adds flair to the wine and truffle pairing trend