Increasing cocoa farmers’ incomes while producing sustainable cocoa

August 2010 – On Côte d’Ivoire cocoa farms, where the green, red and yellow cocoa pods hang ready for harvest, Cargill has been training a growing number of cocoa farmers to use better agricultural, environmental and social practices to improve their yield, productivity and quality and increase their incomes.

As a result of the training, farmers are benefitting from a 30% increase in their incomes from higher yields, as well as an improvement in the quality of their crop. Through the farmer training, farmers are brought to the level of UTZ Certification. Once they receive certification they receive an UTZ CERTIFIED premium.

Cargill founded the UTZ CERTIFIED program, along with a Dutch development organization and others in the cocoa sector in 2007. This independent certification program acknowledges those cocoa farmers who have received farmer training and are demonstrating their commitment to producing sustainable cocoa by improving their farming practices. 

In 2009, the first two cocoa farmer cooperatives received independent UTZ Certification. In 2010, the 1,600 farmers received their first UTZ CERTIFIED premiums totaling over USD $400,000.

As more farmers receive training and continue to implement these improved farming practices, these premiums will continue to raise income levels in the cocoa farming communities.

Increasing the cocoa farmers’ income can have a big impact. “I used [the extra money] to pay for a scholarship for my son to attend the local school,” says Côte d’Ivoire farmer Koné Losséni.

UTZ CERTIFIED cooperatives supporting cocoa farmers

The first two cooperatives to be certified were the Co-operative Agricole de Fiedifoue and Coopaga.

Nearly 1,600 cocoa farmers from these two cooperatives attended the 10-month farmer trainings. The farmers sat together in outdoor classrooms, learning from brightly colored, laminated foldouts and hands-on demonstrations. Training includes safe practices in cocoa farming and post-harvest activities of pruning cocoa trees, plantation renewal and cocoa fermentation methods.

“We believe training farmers to increase yields, improve quality and adopt more sustainable practices can directly contribute to increased earnings for cocoa farmers”, said Harold Poelma, managing director cocoa, of Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate. “While increases for each farmer may vary depending on the market price, quality and yields, farmers who adopt better farming practices are benefiting from higher incomes, as well as improving their long-term success and the future of the cocoa community as a whole.”

The first UTZ CERTIFIED premiums - the impact

Farmers receive the UTZ CERTIFIED premium payments through their cooperatives. More than half of the overall amount is going directly to farmers according to their individual deliveries, and for maximum transparency, farmers’ are able to check the amount of premiums payable to them.

After farmers receive the payment for their cocoa bean deliveries, the remainder is used by the cooperatives and put towards strengthening their operations, improving their organizations and providing support to their farmer members.

“Since we have been in the certification process we see real change when we visit the cocoa farms”, said Yao Konan, General Secretary of the Fiédifoué Co-op. “Trees are healthier and farms cleaner; the farmers not certified can see the benefits of better farming practices and increased productivity, and now they too want to be enrolled.”

Training an additional 10,000 cocoa farmers – Cargill’s commitment to a sustainable  and responsible cocoa supply chain

Cocoa farmer at trainingCargill has committed to training an additional 10,000 farmers in 300 Farmer Field School training programs across 35 co-operatives in Côte d’Ivoire by the end of 2010, meaning more than 10,000 tonnes of cocoa beans will be available for use in sustainably certified chocolate and cocoa products.

Point of View

To promote responsible and sustainable cocoa sourcing we support cocoa farmers in increasing their incomes and enriching cocoa growing communities. For more information, visit responsible cocoa sourcing.