Managing Director of Cocoa Merchants Ghana Limited (CML), Alhaji Abdul Fataa Adamu, has said efforts to ensure production of good quality cocoa beans while improving the livelihoods of farmers, through cocoa certification is significantly contributing to achieving cocoa production sustainability.
He observed that the “firm agreement made by top cocoa grinders and chocolate manufactures including FERRERO in the early 2000s to source only sustainably produced cocoa by the year 2020 was a laudable one.”
He explained that it became necessary because consumers were becoming increasingly concerned about social, environmental and economic issues in the cocoa supply chain. “At the same time, processors wanted to avoid the risk of quality loss and supply shortfalls. International Conventions and treaties such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Millennium Development Goals (MDG’S) were other contributing factors,” he added.
Alhaji Fataa Adamu, who was addressing a gathering of cocoa farmers, to announce the premium payment for cocoa purchases, acknowledged the importance of cocoa certification. “At the initial stage, Cocoa Certification was the tool that was used to drive this move and it is still an important tool being used.”
Currently, he disclosed that other tools and initiatives such as the Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS) are being employed as add-ons to Cocoa Certification to help achieve a more sustainable cocoa sector. Others include Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA), Gender Action and Learning Systems (GALS), FarmGrow, Cocoa Action.
Against this backdrop, he said CML started its sustainable cocoa programme, in 2013, with the overall goal of improving the income and livelihoods of cocoa farmers and farmworkers. This was done by implementing UTZ and Rainforest Alliance certification standards and new initiatives for the value-added market.
FERRERO, through Beyond Beans Foundation adopted Cocoa Merchants’ Konongo, Juaso and Agona Duakwa districts to produce and deliver good quality UTZ certified cocoa beans. The number of farmers participating in this program from these districts has increased from 1,500 in 2018/ 2019 season to 3,989 in the current 2019/2020 season.
These farmers were taken through training and became UTZ certified for which FERRERO through Beyond Beans Foundation purchased 2,925 metric tons of cocoa during the just ended main crop season.
It was also revealed that the project has intensified the CLMRS project, during the ceremony which was held at Juaso, in the Asante Akim South Municipality of the Ashanti region. With the active collaboration of its partners, Cocoa Merchants said they have successfully piloted the Farm Development Plan (FDP) and Shade Tree Registration for some 150 farmers.
At the climax of the event, GH¢783,900 was announced as the premium payment for the 2,925 metric tons of cocoa, which is equivalent 46,800 bags, purchased by FERRERO through Beyond Beans Foundation during the just ended main crop season.
To reduce the risk associated with cash payments to farmers as well as providing them with the opportunity to be part of the digital transformation, the payment of the premium was announced to be done through the various mobile money platforms.
The World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) was acknowledged as one of the stakeholder-organisations which was instrumental in making the premium payment digital.
A representative of the Municipal Police Commander, of the Ghana Police Service, appealed to cocoa farmers to be more security conscious particularly during the time to receive payments for their cocoa sales.
He noted that one of the main causes of the rise in armed robbery cases especially around cocoa sales is due to open disclosure of money in public places either on phone or face to face conversations with others. He also encouraged cocoa purchasing companies to employ competent security to man their stations dotted along with the cocoa districts.