HERSHEY, PA. — The Hershey Co. has introduced its “21st Century Cocoa Plan,” an effort to help coca communities around the globe grow sustainable cocoa. The plan involves a commitment to source 100% third-party certified cocoa for all chocolate products globally by 2020.

“Cocoa is at the heart of our business, and we care deeply that this key ingredient is grown in a safe, healthy and sustainable manner,” said John P. Bilbrey, president and chief executive officer. “Through our Hershey 21st Century Cocoa Plan, we are taking meaningful and measurable steps and making a positive difference in the health and well-being of coca communities.”

The company already is sourcing cocoa through UTZ, Fair Trade USA and Rainforest Alliance, but the company will be working with other certification organizations to expand capacity to certify more cocoa farmers globally.

Additionally, the company is on track to source at least 10% of its total global purchases from certified sources in 2013. It says it will source 40% to 50% from certified sources by the end of 2016 and 100% by 2020.

The “21st Century Cocoa Plan” also involves increasing and expanding the CocaLink mobile phone program that uses technology to deliver agricultural and social training to rural cocoa farmers. Currently, more than nine in 10 Ghanaian cocoa farmers have access to a mobile phone as a part of this program.

The Hershey Learn to Grow farmer and family development center in Ghana will be an important part of the overall sustainable cocoa plans and will provide the company with verified cocoa that may be traced back to the individual farm.

“Hershey’s 21st Century Cocoa Plan represents a range of on-the-ground programs and initiatives that work together to accelerate positive change in the cocoa growing regions over the next seven years,” the company said.

Hershey said that through its own and partner programs the initiative will directly impact 750,000 cocoa farmers and indirectly benefit more than two million West Africans through the use of technology, farmer training, cocoa seed nurseries and planning material, farm inputs on credit, village resource centers, malaria prevention, community infrastructure, village school construction and literacy and health programs.