HERSHEY, Pa., Apr 26, 2012 — The Hershey Company today announced an innovative program to use GPS mapping to provide precise measurements of farm acreage as part of the “HERSHEY LEARN TO GROW” Farm Program in Ghana. GPS mapping will help farmers better plan and manage their cocoa farms, increasing yields and farmer incomes.
The HERSHEY LEARN TO GROW initiative was announced on January 30 as part of Hershey’s $10 million commitment in West Africa during the next five years to accelerate the company’s cocoa programs in the region. The investment will help improve cocoa farming and community health and reduce instances of child labor.
Planting Roots in Central Ghana
Hershey also announced today that it has selected The Assin Foso District in the heart of Ghana’s central cocoa region as the site for this innovative HERSHEY LEARN TO GROW farm and community learning center. From this location, the program will help more than 1,000 farm families and 5,000 cocoa community members improve their livelihoods by learning the latest in modern farming techniques and agricultural stewardship, including appropriate and inappropriate uses of labor.
In addition, Hershey and partner Source Trust will establish 25 community-based farmer organizations to improve the living standards of 1,250 cocoa farm families. Through good agricultural, environmental, social and business practices training; access to improved planting material; and financing for farm inputs, the goal is to double productivity yield and farm income over four years. These local organizations will be the home of the new farmer and family development that Hershey and partner Source Trust are creating in rural Ghana.
Using GPS to Map Ghana’s Cocoa Farms
To help Ghanaian cocoa farmers better understand and utilize modern farm stewardship techniques, HERSHEY LEARN TO GROW is helping farmers:
— Determine the precise size of their farms using GPS technology and a process of mapping and data collection called “GeoT,” and
— Understand the actual size of their farms which makes it easier for farmers to make the best use of the latest practices in planting, pruning and fertilizer techniques for maximum yield and sustainability.
The innovative GeoT GPS process will, for the first time in more than 130 years of cocoa farming in Ghana, help 1,000 participating farmers accurately size their cocoa farms.
Last year, Hershey introduced mobile phone technology for cocoa farmers in an innovative program called CocoaLink. GPS mapping and CocoaLink demonstrate that low cost and widely available technology are providing farmers with new tools to modernize their cocoa farms and boost their productivity and livelihoods.
Setting the Baseline for Growth and Success
In addition to the GPS farm mapping initiative, Hershey and Source Trust are surveying participating farmers to better understand current farm characteristics, farming practices, and pest and disease issues. This information will be critical in establishing a baseline from which to begin to help the farmers implement the best new practices and processes for making their farms more productive, diverse and successful.
The survey process also will look at key indicators for household risk of inappropriate forms of child labor. This will provide an important tool to help identify and monitor households at risk and to deploy information and programs to mitigate the risk of child labor. In addition, the HERSHEY LEARN TO GROW center will work with the Government of Ghana to help achieve their goals for the 2009-2015 National Plan of Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor (WFCL).
Improving Farmer and Community Livelihoods to Change Lives
Improved farming practices directly enhance family, community and education in cocoa villages. More than 50 percent of farm family income in this region comes from cocoa, so higher cocoa yields translate into extra income for families, which enables them to invest in their well-being, including sending their children to school. The HERSHEY LEARN TO GROW farm center will supply farmers with high-yielding seedlings, better planting and pruning practices, methods for organic fertilization and biocontrol of insect pests to improve yields and incomes.
Increasing opportunities for Children through Technology
The HERSHEY LEARN TO GROW program also will bring high-tech learning to rural farm villages through technology centers that provide computer access to local schools, farmers and the community. The training programs will be based on an interactive curriculum to teach cocoa farmers about optimal agricultural, environmental and social practices.