Pioneering projects in sustainable cocoa farming

Kwame Osei, 65, dreams of his youngest daughter one day taking over his cocoa plantation in Ghana. There are good chances of that happening: Innovative procurement models, such as the Lindt & Sprüngli Farming Program, are making farming more attractive again for farmers.

Kwame Osei is one of more than 42’000 Ghanaian small-scale farmers who supply cocoa for LINDT chocolate. This highly important commodity for the production of chocolate is grown in a narrow belt around the Equator. Despite intensive and careful work, many cocoa farmers live in impoverished circumstances. The non-transparent trade channels with many interim dealers, small farming areas, insufficient farming practices, the lack of access to inputs, the ageing of the existing trees coupled with the challenging care that they require all contribute to the farmers' income often being very low. Many cocoa farmers are therefore turning their backs on farming entirely.

Creating traceability - with the company's own procurement model

To combat these shortcomings, Lindt & Sprüngli, the manufacturer of LINDT chocolate, has for several years opted to work closely with the farmers in the best cocoa farming regions in the world. In Ghana, where a major percentage of the cocoa for LINDT chocolate comes from, a special procurement model has been developed for this. It aims to improve the situation for the farmers locally and at the same time increase the attractiveness of cocoa farming so that cocoa remains available in sufficient quality and volume in the future too. It is hoped that the risk of child labour and poor working conditions will be reduced as the livelihoods and living conditions of farmers and their communities improve. Together with Armajaro, Lindt & Sprüngli’s supply chain partner in Ghana, and the state-run Ghanaian organisation Ghana Cocoa Board, a system for the traceability of cocoa was created back in 2008. Thanks to this system, it is known where the purchased beans come from. This transparency makes it possible to safeguard the quality of the cocoa and at the same time gain a picture of the social and ecological farming conditions locally. This in turn permits specific assistance for the farmers. Traceability is thus the key to ensuring sustainable cocoa procurement today and in the future.

Providing the cocoa farmers and their families with specific assistance

As a result of this procurement model, life in cocoa farming communities is getting better in many ways. Farmers benefit from specifically selected projects to improve the farming practices and the social situation in the farming areas. These projects are implemented by the non-profit-making and local partner Source Trust. Lindt & Sprüngli pays a voluntary premium for cocoa from Ghana, thus making these projects possible. Through their work locally, Lindt & Sprüngli and Source Trust are familiar with the requirements of the farmers and with their support projects focus on the areas most valuable for the local population. For instance, training courses are offered in which the farmers learn more about how to handle the sensitive cocoa plants. Kwame Osei also learned in one of these training courses how to better protect the cocoa trees against diseases and increase their yield: "Since I learned how to use organic fertilizer on my plants, I have been able to substantially increase my harvest."

An independent way

The special procurement model is an independent, alternative way to procure socially and ecologically sustainable cocoa for chocolate production. Monitoring and assessments conducted by independent organizations ensure that the sustainable procurement model works reliably and is constantly developed further. The decision has consciously been taken not to opt for a well-known label for LINDT chocolate: It would not be possible to guarantee the required quantity in the required quality from specific farming regions and with required flavour characteristics. With its procurement model, Lindt & Sprüngli is taking steps to ensure that Kwame Osei's dream becomes reality one day and his daughter sees cocoa farming as an attractive source of income in the future.