Ivory Coast children

UTZ Certified, an Amsterdam-based program and a label for sustainable farming of cocoa, coffee and tea, published a new code of conduct that, it says, is stronger in content and simpler in structure. The code focuses on management practices and elaborates more on climate change adaptation. There is also greater emphasis on measures for preventing, monitoring and remediating child labor, increasing women’s participation and reaching more smallholders. The simpler language of the new structure—consisting of one core code and commodity specific modules—allows more farmers to join the UTZ program.

By focusing more on management practices in the farm, the new code is expected to lead farmers to take informed decisions, while increasing farm profitability over the long term. Farmers will also be guided in adaptation measures to prepare them for unpredictable weather events in tropical areas due to climate change.

The code is further designed to increase farmers’ social and economic resilience. For example, it promotes diversification strategies such as intercropping and home gardens in which highly nutritional plants are established. Other highlights include the treatment of coffee wastewater and its post-quality analysis, as well as the explicit promotion of ecological diversity and the protection of ecosystems.

“We seek an approach of continuous improvement in which farm productivity is strengthened by an efficient use of inputs, while also addressing social and environmental challenges more in depth,” says Britta Wyss Bisang, standards director at UTZ Certified. “We want this code of conduct to become an everyday and easy-to-use tool for farmers—a tool that will help them improve agricultural techniques, impact positively on farmers’ lives and enhance environmental protection.”

The UTZ code of conduct is reviewed every five years by all stakeholders—producers, academics, industry members and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)—to further enhance the benefits of the UTZ program. The review process for the new code began in August 2012. Farmers can begin using the new code June 1, 2014; it be mandatory under the program July 1, 2015.

For more information, visit www.utzcertified.org.