I work on the Nestlé Cocoa Plan, which helps cocoa farmers run farms profitably and sustainably while improving social conditions in their communities. We do everything from helping farmers manage their land and soil practices to connecting women and children with access to education.
Farmers educate us. We educate farmers. And, together, we help make a positive impact on the planet and on farm families.Nathan
In 2020, we engaged over 120,000 farmers and sourced more than 200,000 tonnes of cocoa through the Nestlé Cocoa Plan. That represents real progress towards creating a more sustainable, regenerative food system.
Confronting challenges in the field
I am deeply passionate about working hand-in-hand with farmers to make a meaningful impact on their lives and in their communities.
I'll never forget a recent visit with a cocoa farmer who was having problems with some of his trees. As soon as I got there, I could see that they were in terrible shape. The trees were suffering from a common virus called swollen shoot disease. They needed to be cut down to stop the disease from spreading to his other trees, for the farm to survive. It put the farmer in a difficult position – anyone would hesitate to make such a drastic decision.
Building trusted relationships
I spent time fostering trust with the farmer and discussing his options. While he was initially reluctant to take such a drastic step, we eventually agreed that it was the right decision. I visited his farm several weeks later, and it was thriving. Working with and listening to farmers makes outcomes like this possible.
Ultimately, my takeaway was that education is a two-way street that requires listening and dialogue. To regenerate our land, food systems will have to change farming practices and make investments that improve communities — but none of this is possible without education and mutual support in finding the path forward.
Farmers educate us. We educate farmers. And, together, we help make a positive impact on the planet and on farm families.
Putting passion into practice
In my region, making better cocoa includes improving the lives of the people who grow it. That's why our effort to help farmers includes promoting gender equality and developing long-term relationships with farmer groups, in addition to distributing higher-yielding cocoa trees. Every day is different and challenges me to bring my best.
I feel honored to have a job that lets me draw on my passion for education and have a positive influence on farm family lives and livelihoods. And I know I'm not alone in that mission. Around the world there are other 'Nathans' working for Nestlé, like I do, or working with Nestlé partners on the ground. Each of us works to support farming communities across different crops and regions: from fighting deforestation in palm oil to empowering women in coffee farming. That farmer support is the backbone of how we make change in agriculture and ultimately achieve a regenerative impact, creating true positives for families, communities, and the planet.