HERSHEY, PA. — The Hershey Learn to Grow program that originated in Ghana last year will be expanded to Nigeria with the hopes of increasing the incomes of farmers in Nigeria by training them to grow certified cocoa that Hershey will use in its products around the world, the Hershey-based company said July 16.

In Nigeria, Hershey and its partners will provide 20,000 cocoa farmers with advanced training in order to improve the quality of their cocoa, while doubling productivity and increasing farmer income by 30%. Hershey Learn to Grow Nigeria also will focus on business and finance training for farmers so they are able to access credit to improve their farms, the company said.

Hershey is committed to using 100% certified cocoa in its products worldwide by 2020. Hershey’s percentage of certified cocoa will surpass 10% this year and increase to between 40% and 50% by 2016.

Hershey Learn to Grow Nigeria will employ computerized tracking of cocoa through the entire supply chain. This will provide farmers with precise information about the size of their farms, age of cocoa trees and ability to use fertilizers to increase production, Hershey said. The program also will place an emphasis on improving cocoa communities through water and power provision, malaria prevention and education programs.

“We believe cocoa farming in Nigeria will benefit greatly from modernization programs that help increase incomes, improve communities, reduce child labor and assure long-term supply,” said Terry O’Day, senior vice-president, chief supply chain officer. “Hershey is driving rapid improvement in cocoa farming in West Africa through technologies that are popular with farmers, such as satellite farm mapping, model demonstration farms and mobile phone training in the CocoaLink program. We are pleased to be working with IDH on a program that squarely focuses on the needs of Nigerian cocoa farmers and their families.”