Cargill Cocoa Training Increases Farmer Incomes as Much as 50%

Cargill Inc. is training cocoa farmers to raise production and crop quality, lifting their incomes as much as 50 percent, said Ruth Rawling, vice president of corporate affairs for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Cargill has worked with about 60,000 growers in Ivory Coast and 15,000 in Ghana to educate them on tree management, dealing with diseases and crop processing, Rawling said today. That’s helping farmers to improve yields and the quality of their cocoa, she said. The two nations are the world’s biggest producers of the beans used to make chocolate.

“Training makes such a difference,” Rawling said in an interview at a commodity conference in Geneva. “We’ve seen farmer income rise 30 percent to 50 percent.”

Growers’ costs tend to remain stable, so “as soon as the yield goes up, it’s all profit,” she said, adding that many farmers in West Africa received no training “for years.” The gain in incomes relates directly to higher yields, Rawling said.

Rawling was a speaker at a meeting organized by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Cargill, based in Minneapolis, owns grain elevators, cocoa-processing plants and ethanol refineries. It’s the largest closely held U.S. company. Cocoa fell 6.7 percent this year in New York trading, heading for a third annual drop in four.