Founder Kitty Smeeten: ‘Within our sustainable and social mission, we continue to strive for improvements within the themes better for you, better for the environment and better for other people. The fact that the cocoa mass we use can now be traced back to the farmer is a very important new step forward for us.’
Through the Cocoa Horizons program, Hands Off My Chocolate (HOMC) beans are purchased directly from five cooperatives in the Ivory Coast and two in Ghana. Together these are 5,745 farmers, of which 947 are women and 4,798 men. The traceable process starts with marking the cocoa bags with a blue thread. The bags are then provided with codes that have been developed specifically for the cocoa from Hands Off My Chocolate. In this way the beans are kept separate from the other bags from the farmer to the end station. As a result, HOMC knows exactly which farmers it works with and the progress these communities are making through the Cocoa Horizons program.
Cocoa Horizons coaches cocoa farmers through local practical education and training. In addition, the program productivity packages available. Such a package is individually tailored to each farmer and includes items such as fertilizers and plant disease control agents. These coaching processes lead to a higher cocoa production, which can improve the livelihood of the farmer and his community. In addition, the farmers receive a premium on top of the cocoa price. The Cocoa Horizons Foundation has further focal points women empowerment, protecting children and sustainable cocoa farming.
Female cocoa farmers are vastly outnumbered. Only about 19% are women. HOMC believes it is important that women increase their self-confidence and independence, so that they are given a voice. Through Cocoa Horizons, women learn to grow cocoa and other crops on their own land. They also receive lessons in financial management. Thanks to these training courses and the income from their land, the women can save or take out a loan and use this money for an additional business, such as poultry farming, vegetable cultivation or rice cultivation.
Cocoa Horizons aims to completely eliminate child labor by 2025. That’s why the foundation works with government and communities to enforce laws against child labour, provide proper school infrastructure, and provide financial support to families so children can go to school. Checks are carried out to establish that there is no child labor on the plantations.
Cocoa Horizons encourages the use of eco-friendly farming practices. Due to higher productivity, less land is needed, which leads to less deforestation. The boundaries between farms and nature reserves are also clearly mapped out. In addition, farmers affiliated with Cocoa Horizons may not have deforested for five years prior to registration.
Cocoa Horizons Foundation
The Cocoa Horizons Foundation is an independent non-profit organization of Barry Callebaut, committed to sustainable cocoa with a mission to improve the living conditions of cocoa farmers and their communities by promoting sustainable entrepreneurial farming, improved productivity and community development.
Goals of Cocoa Horizons for 2025:
-All affiliated farmers live above the poverty line
-Child labor has been completely banned on the affiliated plantations
-Deforestation-free and CO2-positive agriculture has been achieved.