Hershey, PA — The Hershey Co. is expanding its mobile phone-enabled cocoa-farmer training program, CocoaLink, to Ivory Coast, where it expects to reach 100,000 farmers by 2016.
CocoaLink provides farmers with mobile phones through which they can receive farming tips by text message. Hershey launched the initiative in 2011 and has provided 18,000 farmers — 35 percent of which are women — with more than 350,000 cocoa tips in at least 500 communities, the company claims.
“CocoaLink messages are designed based on farmer surveys and are kept relevant through continual feedback with this interactive platform,” Senior Vice-President and Chief Supply Chain Officer Terry O'Day says. “Through CocoaLink and other technology-based programs, Hershey and our partners will be adding digital literacy training in the cocoa communities of Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire where the need is greatest. Because women have such a personal impact on the well-being of their families and communities, our focus and digital outreach will be customized to their particular interests and circumstances.”
Hershey says it will implement digital literacy training through the World Cocoa Foundation’s youth education program and training videos women farmers in Ghana can access. In addition, the company says it will offer virtual classrooms in Assin Fosu, Ghana, that connect with the Milton Hershey School in Pennsylvania, and will use its cocoa mapping GPS project in order to help farmers understand the size and scope of their farms.