In Côte d’Ivoire there’s a union called ECOOKIM, made up of 23 cocoa-growing cooperatives covering more than 10,000 individual cocoa farmers. And they just got some very good news.
Italian choco-confectionery giant Ferrero Rocher has announced they will source 40,000 metric tons of Fairtrade certified cocoa by 2019 – and ECOOKIM is their main supplier. Ferrero and Fairtrade started working together in 2014. By the end of 2015, Ferrero had sourced 8,800 metric tonnes as Fairtrade and their commitment has kept growing. The latest announcement brings the luxury chocolatier a step closer to its goal of using 100 percent certified sustainable cocoa by 2020.
It’s part of a plan by Ferrero to make sure cocoa farming is a sustainable industry and that small-scale farming can be a viable career option for young people in cocoa growing countries. And the farmers who make up the ECOOKIM union do indeed work on a small scale. In fact, the average farmer works a plot of 3.5ha and produces about 680kg of cocoa per hectare of land. These small volumes can leave farmers vulnerable to failed crops, climate change, or sharp drops in market prices, but the stability Fairtrade offers can help make them more resilient.
Farmers selling Fairtrade certified cocoa know they will receive at least the Fairtrade Minimum Price for their produce – even if the standard market price has fallen below it – as well as a Fairtrade Premium that can be invested by the cooperatives in whatever they decide, from training, to tools, to schools for local children. It gives farmers certainty about their income and helps them plan for brighter futures.
So far Fairtrade training has helped farmers increase their cocoa volume, while the Premium – $US1.4M from Ferrero’s purchases – has funded water pumps and schools for the ECOOKIM communities. A pilot program to prevent child labour and exploitation has also benefitted more than 9,400 children. What’s more, Ferrero’s commitment to 100 percent certified sustainable cocoa means their relationship with the farmers of ECOOKIM will be a long-term one.
And if anyone is starting to feel peckish reading about all that cocoa, you’ll be pleased to know the majority of the ECOOKIM produce is classed as Cocoa Grade 1, the highest classification. So with 40,000MT being enough to fill about 32 Olympic swimming pools, that is a lot of very good cocoa being turned into very good chocolate.
For more information about the Fairtrade Sourcing Program and how it's providing more benefits to farmers and their communities, read more here.
For more information about Ferrero’s sourcing commitment, check out their Corporate Sustainability Report, Sharing Value by Creating Value, www.ferrerocsr.com
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