Barry Callebaut, the world's leading manufacturer of high-quality cocoa and chocolate products, paid premiums totaling CHF 2.8 million (EUR 2.4 million/USD 2.9 million) to 45 cocoa cooperatives and more than 12,000 farmers in Côte d'Ivoire for Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa.
Farmers receive half of the premium while the other half is retained by the cooperative and used to provide services to its farmer members or for community facilities. The farmers and cooperatives received the premium payments for the delivery of more than 15,000 metric tonnes of certified cocoa during the 2011/2012 cocoa season.
The premium payments were presented at a celebration in Yamoussoukro on Aug. 23 attended by local officials and dignitaries, representatives from government ministries, cooperative leaders and farmers.
"This event marks another important milestone in Barry Callebaut's long history of working in partnership with farmers in Côte d'Ivoire to improve yields and quality while growing cocoa in a sustainable way," said Steven Retzlaff, president of global sourcing and cocoa, Barry Callebaut.
The more than12,000 farmers from the 45 cooperatives have been trained in sustainable cocoa production by Barry Callebaut's in-house certification team based in Côte d'Ivoire. Agricultural training is a core component of the company's "Cocoa Horizons" cocoa sustainability initiative designed to boost farm productivity, increase quality and improve family livelihoods in key cocoa producing countries.
"We congratulate the producers and cooperatives on their accomplishments, and commend them for making the commitment to apply sound and responsible agricultural practices that are good for their cocoa trees, good for their farms and good for their families," said Bart Willems, general manager of Barry Callebaut's subsidiary in Côte d'Ivoire, Societé Africaine de Cacao (SACO).
The cooperatives honored at the event are located throughout Côte d'Ivoire's cocoa production belt, with the majority located in Bas-Sassandra, the country's biggest cocoa producing region today.
"We are proud to recognize these cocoa farmers and cooperatives in Côte d'Ivoire who are working to conserve biodiversity, to prevent soil erosion and water contamination, and thereby safeguard their land and natural resources for future generations," said Mercedes Tallo, director of sustainable value chains at the Rainforest Alliance. "With the continued engagement of growers, cooperatives and companies like Barry Callebaut in promoting and applying sound land-use practices, we can together make important strides towards ensuring sustainable livelihoods for cocoa farmers and their families."
The Rainforest Alliance certification standard includes economic, social and environmental criteria, with an emphasis on environmental issues, including protection of natural resources and the management of chemical inputs such as fertilizer and pesticide. Last week, Barry Callebaut announced its first collaboration with the Rainforest Alliance in Cameroon.