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    Hershey Begins GPS Mapping of Ghanaian Cocoa Farms

    Technology aims to boost farmer incomes, improve communities

    The Hershey Co. is employing GPS mapping to provide precise measurements of farm acreage as part of the “Hershey Learn to Grow” Farm Program in the African nation of Ghana. The cutting-edge technology will help farmers better plan and manage their farms, thereby boosting yields and farmer incomes.

    Learn to Grow rolled out Jan. 30 as part of Hershey’s $10 million commitment in west Africa over the next five years to accelerate the chocolate maker’s cocoa programs in the region. The investment will help enhance cocoa farming and community health, and reduce instances of child labor.

    Additionally, Pennsylvania-based Hershey has selected the Assin Foso District in the heart of Ghana’s central cocoa region as the site for the innovative 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 instructing them in the latest modern farming techniques and agricultural stewardship, including appropriate and inappropriate uses of labor.

    Further, Hershey and partner Source Trust, a London-based not-for-profit organization, will establish 25 community-based farmer organizations to raise 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 aim is to double productivity yield and farm income over four years. The local organizations will be the bases of the new farmer and family development that Hershey and Source Trust are implementing in rural Ghana.

    Along with 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 used to establish a baseline from which to begin to help the farmers adopt the best new practices and processes for making their farms more productive, diverse and successful. The survey also will look at key indicators for household risk of inappropriate forms of child labor, with the goal of reducing its worst forms.

    Additionally, the farm center will supply farmers with high-yielding seedlings, better planting and pruning practices, and methods for organic fertilization and biocontrol of insect pests to improve yields and incomes, as well as bringing high-tech learning to rural farm villages through technology centers offering computer access to local schools, farmers and the community. The training programs will feature an interactive curriculum to teach cocoa farmers about optimal agricultural, environmental and social practices.

    Last year, Hershey introduced mobile phone technology for cocoa farmers through its “CocoaLink” program.

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