Cargill, a global trader, says despite the number of certified Ivorian female farmers providing cocoa to Nestle quadrupled since 2011-12 to 406, they represented only 4 per cent of certified farmers. Cass Hebron explores. “Farmers decide as a cooperative how to use the premium based on their local needs, such as water, schools, classrooms,” Nyong’o says. KitKats sold in the U.S., which are produced by Hershey's through a licensing agreement, already met this standard last April. Through Nestle's Cocoa Plan, she attended training sessions on leadership, agricultural business and gender equality. The 2019 Nestle Cocoa Plan progress report reveals some of the work being done, including identifying children at risk of child labour in their supply chains and helping to integrate them into schools instead. “This crisis has shown us how fragile our food supply chains are,” says Nyong’o. But as it moves away from Fairtrade – as a certification system – the company will have work to do to convince critics that its in-house scheme can ever bridge that gap. Last year, a report by the Fair Labor Association found four children under 15 working at some of the 200 farms in the Ivory Coast that supply Nestlé with cocoa. "Promoting a cultural shift to ensure gender equality in the cocoa-chocolate value chain is central to guaranteeing future resilience of supply and ensuring future generations find the occupation attractive.". Before making the decision to leave and throughout its notice period with Fairtrade, Nestlé had “listened carefully to farmers” and “used their input to create a comprehensive package to support their needs through the transition”. In a statement, the corporation said it aimed to ‘harmonise’ its cocoa sourcing schemes through its own Nestlé Cocoa Plan by 2025, and that it will continue to pay financial assistance to farmers. The cocoa supply chain features serious challenges, from low incomes for farmers to child labour and gender inequalities. Nestlé is facing criticism for using chocolate and seafood harvested by children and slaves. In 2001, Nestlé faced huge criticism for purchasing cocoa from the Ivory Coast and Ghana suppliers, which may have been produced using child slaves. Women cocoa farmers struggle with less pay, land and training compared with men. Nestlé Cocoa Plan delivers more sustainable cocoa. In a statement, the corporation said it aimed to ‘harmonise’ its cocoa sourcing schemes through its own Nestlé Cocoa Plan by 2025, and that it will continue to pay financial assistance to farmers. “If [Nestlé] are really committed to support farmers and workers on the ground, they should listen to the appeal and let the people decide their future.”. Although Mars was the slowest among the three chocolate giants to take action, Oxfam welcomed the announcement and said it awaited the implementation of the plan. In the shade of a cocoa tree near the tiny village of Yaokouakoukro north-east of the commercial city of Abidjan, Jeanne Kindo recalled the many years she farmed without knowledge, excluded from training because she was a woman. We rely on our subscribers to sustain our journalism – so if you think it's worth having an independent, specialist media platform that covers social enterprise stories, please consider subscribing. But, since the company was actually shifting to a different form of certification, was the move justified – and what does it mean for the Fairtrade mark? It says gender equality will not only improve women's lives and that of their communities but the quality of cocoa, which in turn would help address the industry's shortage woes. The Nestlé Cocoa Plan. Is it the beginning of the end of the well-known Fairtrade mark? Dr Nyagoy Nyong’o, director of Fairtrade Africa, which builds a network of producers in Africa and supports them in accessing the Fairtrade market, says that the KitKat decision will cause farmers in the Ivory Coast, Fiji and Malawi to lose nearly £2m in 'Fairtrade premium'. This task of ethical consumption shouldn’t be on the consumer. KitKats will no longer be made with chocolate harvested by children. “There are companies, and then there are ‘antisocial’ companies.”, While transparency from corporations may be one vital element, surely it’s also crucial to give the farmers a say in their future? The NGO Friends of the Earth UK, for example, has named sustainable consumption, and trade deals that safeguard from environmental and human rights violations, as crucial elements for a truly sustainable economy. "I did things randomly, with no knowledge behind it," she said in French, her head wrapped in a bright-orange scarf. Women are marginalised in the cocoa supply chain and often unrecognised and underpaid.