Success Story | Cocoa Life Program

20 June 2020

Mondelez India (earlier Cadbury India) introduced Cocoa for commercial cultivation among Indian farmers after confirming its viability through an experimental station in the state of Kerala in South India about 55 years back. Through this the company pioneered the viable intercropping of Cocoa (note here that Cocoa is a Equatorial crop which was adapted to Tropical climates of India) among Indian farmers deriving strategic and economic benefits to the industry and the farming community while addressing community needs like employment generation, awareness creation on education, health etc., women empowerment, livelihood for marginalised tribal communities and benefiting the environment through carbon sequestration and water saving.

Mondelez India’s Cocoa Life program covers a wide spectrum of activities starting from supporting Cocoa agriculture research at Universities in South India, producing quality planting materials, offering free technical advice to farmers through a massive farmer-outreach program, farm-gate procurement of Cocoa beans from the farmers eliminating middlemen, promoting drip irrigation and undertaking community programs like women training, school support and tribal farmers support. This program ensures economic benefit to the farming communities, social benefits to the local communities and ensures environment benefits like carbon sequestration and water saving. Mondelez India works with around 100,000 farmers totally under Cocoa Life Programme. This program in the 4 southern states of India having tropical climates.

Today, about 3 million Cocoa seedlings are cultured/grown by Mondelez India annually and the company supports the farmers from planting to post harvest processing and procurement of beans. The company’s Cocoa nurseries, bean fermentation and sourcing operations generate rural employment added to the additional employment generated through intercropping of Cocoa by farmers. Their team trains women farmers & workers on cultivation aspects, home finance management, health & welfare and education and also supports marginalised tribal farmers through introducing Cocoa to them and hand-holding until establishment.

From cocoa being entirely imported into India, today India currently produces ~20,000 MT of cocoa and Mondelez India through its backward integrated cocoa procurement model, procures around half of this produce – the rest of which is bought by other buyers through normal market practices.

The farmers maximize their yields and increase profitability through additional income by growing cocoa as an intercrop with coconut, arecanut, oil palm and as a mixed crop. Farmers are benefited through soil health improvement from cocoa leaf litter and resultant organic matter addition, soil moisture retention through mulch & reduced surface run-off and adequate percolation of rain water.

Adoption of environmentally sustainable practices like drip irrigation by ~500 cocoa farmers each year helps in saving precious water. The farm gate procurement of cocoa by Mondelez helps in eliminating the middlemen thereby benefiting the farmers with the best price for their produce.

The company's initiative on women empowerment in cocoa communities through exclusive training programs on health, hygiene, nutrition and financial inclusion increases the positive impact and is a catalyst for community development.

Cocoa Life program in India successfully enrolled over 3000 marginalized tribal farmers into cocoa planting creating livelihood opportunities for them. Over 5500 children in the remote cocoa communities are benefitted through school infrastructure support and exclusive programs like Sports for Development.