Cargill's Cocoa & Chocolate business has handed over the first UTZ CERTIFIED premiums to two farmer cooperatives in Cote d'Ivoire. Co-operatives Agricole de Fiedifoue and Coopaga received more than $400,000 for deliveries of certified sustainable cocoa beans since the beginning of October 2009.
The premiums will be shared amongst the cooperatives and their members, totaling nearly 1,600 farmers. More than half of the overall amount will be distributed directly to farmers based on their individual deliveries.
For maximum transparency, farmers are able to consult the list of the deliveries they made and check them against the related amount that is payable to them. The remainder of the money is retained by the farmer cooperatives to strengthen their operations, help improve their organization and provide support to all their farmer members.
"We are delighted to be able to hand over these premiums to the farmer cooperatives," says Harold Poelma, managing director of cocoa, Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate. "The UTZ CERTIFIED cocoa program was set-up to help produce cocoa more sustainably and to improve the incomes and livelihoods of the farmers that produce it. These premiums recognize the hard work undertaken by the farmers and demonstrate that we are fulfilling our aims."
The UTZ CERTIFIED cocoa program -- co-founded by Cargill, along with the Dutch development organization Solidaridad and others in the cocoa sector -- has introduced independent certification to improve agricultural, environmental and social practices in cocoa production. It is supporting small-scale farmers to improve their farming practices, thereby producing a higher quality crop with increased productivity. The certification of the cooperatives in Cote d'Ivoire was the result of an intensive 10-month training program run by Cargill for the farmers in the cooperatives.
Cargill's farmer training program has resulted in farmers benefitting from a 30% increase in their incomes from higher yields as well as an improvement in the quality of their crop. The better quality and compliance with UTZ CERTIFIED standards is being rewarded with these first payments of the UTZ Certification premium.
"We believe training farmers to increase yields, improve quality and adopt more sustainable practices can directly contribute to increased earnings for cocoa farmers," Poelma adds. "While increases for each farmer may vary depending on the market price, quality and yields, farmers who adopt better farming practices are benefitting from higher incomes as well as improving their long-term success."
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