Cadbury sweetens lives of cocoa farmers

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Doug Krizner: Ghana is the biggest supplier of cocoa to British candy maker Cadbury. But cocoa crops in this west African nation have fallen to just 40 percent of their potential. One reason is more young people are turning their backs on farming. That’s got Cadbury teaming up with the United Nations. Gretchen Wilson has more.

Gretchen Wilson: Cadbury says the initiative hits a sweet spot: boosting cocoa yields while improving the lives of small-scale farmers.

The company’s research in Ghana found some farmers in its supply chain produce as little as four sacks of beans a year. The global price of cocoa has been hit hard over the years, leaving farmers destitute.

Tim Newman is a cocoa expert with the International Labor Rights Forum:

Tim Newman: Cocoa farmers are basically trapped in a cycle of poverty.

Cadbury wants to teach farmers how to get more beans from their trees, and how to grow compatible crops to get more income. This year, the company will put $2 million towards the project.

Of course, Cadbury benefits, too. It’s locking up its relationship with cocoa-producing areas, similar to the way oil and gas companies do. Its chocolate footprint will give Cadbury a leading edge over competitors if cocoa farming wanes worldwide.

I’m Gretchen Wilson for Marketplace.

All reporting by Gretchen L. Wilson, © 2008

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