A leading cocoa processing firm, Barry Callebaut Nigeria, has rewarded over 3,000 cocoa farmers with N171 million alongside essential farm inputs for their efforts in supplying high-quality cocoa beans during the 2002/2023 farming season.
The farmers, drawn from Ondo, Osun, Ogun and Cross River states, who converge on Akure, Ondo State capital, were recognized by the firm to motivate and encourage them in their resolve towards ensuring a steady supply of top-grade cocoa beans.
Addressing farmers on Tuesday, the Sustainability Operations Manager of the company, Mujeeb Oniyide, said by investing in the farmers’ welfare and providing them with necessary resources, the company seeks to foster a mutually-beneficial relationship that promotes sustainable cocoa production and uplifts the livelihoods of the farmers.
Oniyide further stressed that the incentives, tagged, “Premium Distribution Flag-off,” would enable the farmers to optimise their farming practices and achieve higher yields while maintaining the quality standards demanded by the industry.
He said: “In supporting the national economic development plans, many of the beneficiaries of this premium will be receiving the payment digitally through a wallet system created for the farmers. This is aimed at improving the financial inclusion of our cocoa farmers in rural settlements.
“This premium payment is in line with the mandate of the company’s cocoa horizon sustainability programme, which aims at improving the livelihoods of cocoa farmers and their communities through promotion of sustainable, entrepreneurial farming, improved productivity, and community development.
“Similarly, Barry Callebaut has trained over 5,000 cocoa farmers in Osun, Ondo, Ogun and Cross River states on good agricultural practices with strategic plans for measuring the impacts of the training.
“To also support these farmers and improve their productivity, farm inputs, such as spraying machines, rain boots, cutlasses, wheelbarrows, and many more, were shared with farmers in the course of the season.
Oniyide added that the company had been working closely with cocoa farmers to guide against children working in cocoa plantations, instead allowing them to be educated.
“The scope is extended to human rights due diligence and strengthening the community-based approach to address the systemic root causes of child labour.
“The environmental approach is reinforced with a focus on insetting via agro-forestry, generating co-benefits for farmers, and helping customers to achieve their net zero ambitions by 2050.
Furthermore, founder of the Springboard Farmers’ Cooperative in Ondo State, Lawrence Afere, who commended the firm for the support, urged the farmers to put more efforts into improving the quality of their cocoa beans.
One of the beneficiaries, Adenike Ogbera, promised that the rewards would lure more farmers into cocoa production, and those who are already in cocoa farming would be encouraged to produce more quality cocoa.