Food Lab member Ben & Jerry’s rolls out innovative program for living income and climate resilience

In a case study produced for the USAID Feed the Future Learning Community for Supply Chain Resilience, the Food Lab features member Ben & Jerry’s and their effort to increase cocoa farmer income while building resilience to climate change.

Helping Cocoa Farmers to Achieve A Living Income and Adapt to Climate Change follows the popular ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s and their collaboration with Fairtrade International known as the Producer Development Initiative (PDI). PDI is a program in line with Ben & Jerry’s mission to create linked prosperity for everyone connected to their business. In this pilot, Ben & Jerry’s worked with partners Barry Callebaut, Fairtrade International and Sustainable Food Lab, to provide increased economic security to cocoa farmers in Cote d’Ivoire via farm renovation, technical assistance and cooperative strengthening.

The PDI was designed to be a step change for farmer impact and considered the effects of climate change on farmers’ livelihoods. Partners harnessed tools such as the climate exposure maps produced by CIAT under the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) program to create services to increase production on existing farmland while adapting to the hazards of climate change and prevention of deforestation. In linking both income and climate resilience, the pilot was a first of its kind program, offering an innovative and high-reward path out of poverty for a trailblazing group of farmers who had the willingness and ability to renovate their tree stock.

The innovation of this program rests in the long-term financial commitment provided by Ben & Jerry’s. Understanding the high upfront investment required for farmers to renovate (approximately $2,000 usd/ha), Ben & Jerry’s provided farmers with 900 CFA (250 CFA above the Fairtrade minimum price at the time). The ROI minimum price supported by Ben & Jerry’s created relative stability for farmers taking on the risk of this important long-term investment. With a ROI minimum price in place and technical help from Barry Callebaut and Fairtrade International, farmers who decided to invest in renovation were offered financing, price support and training to do so.

The pilot program has had positive results since its start in 2016, but unfortunately hasn’t reached its full potential due to the government ban on replanting in 2018 from concern of oversupply. Before the ban took place, the project was able to help 55 farmers fully renovate 1 ha each. The renovations stand as the first large scale (relative to farm size) renovations for three cooperatives and many other farmers are watching closely with interest to renovate when the ban lifts.

In addition to the farmers who fully renovated, the pilot has also provided positive results in the form of:

  • 4,610 farmers trained in four cooperatives out of a total of 5,367
  • 645 farmers have started to create Farm Development Plans
  • 100 cooperative staff have received capacity building
  • 1 shade tree nursery has been established

This case has been documented as part of the USAID Learning Community for Supply Chain Resilience, led by the CGIAR Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security global research program, which seeks to bridge the gap between science and industry through the development of recommendations for improved partnership with private sector actors. For more details on the pilot program, read the full case study here.

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