First cocoa co-ops certified as sustainable

These are just three of the fruits being enjoyed by cocoa-producing farmer co-operatives (in the Ivory Coast) which have become the first to be certified under the UTZ CERTIFIED cocoa sustainability programme. UTZ has been operating in other sectors, mainly coffee, since 2002.

Two co-ops in this small Western African nation about the size of New Mexico participated in the eight-month programme that trained 1,590 farmers in sustainable agriculture practices. It is an initiative that Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate has been undertaking in the region for many years.

"For 10 years we have run training programs for farmers believing it is the best way to bring sustainability — in all senses of the word — into the supply chain," explained Harold Poelma, managing director of cocoa for Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate.

These training programmes have included on-the-ground advice to cocoa farmers about better agricultural practices, as well as one-day seminars. In order to improve UTZ certification training, Cargill created Farmer Field Schools.

"Farmers come together every two weeks for half a day and are trained by professional trainers paid by Cargill," Poelma said. "This training is done for one year. Cargill is currently running 150 Farmer Field Schools rising to 300 next year, in which about 10,000 farmers will take part. As their co-operatives become certified, they will contribute to Cargill's anticipated target of 10,000 tonnes of certified beans by the end this of year."

Cargill partnered with international development organization Solidaridad on the project, and was also supported by IDH, a Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative that creates coalitions between market parties and social partners to expand sustainable trade chains.

Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate carries a wide range of both standard and customized cocoa and chocolate ingredients for bakery, confectionery and dairy applications. Its product range includes Gerkens cocoa powders, chocolate, coatings, fillings, cocoa liquors and cocoa butters under the Wilbur chocolate, Peter's chocolate and Veliche chocolate brands. The company has its own cocoa bean sourcing operations for buying, handling and exporting cocoa beans in Brazil, Cameroon, the Ivory Coast, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Founded in 2002, UTZ CERTIFIED Good Inside is dedicated to creating an open and transparent marketplace for agricultural products and pioneering certification and traceability of coffee supply chains. It is developing sustainability models for other sectors, such as cocoa, tea and palm oil.

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