Leading cocoa industry players Ferrero, Petra Foods Limited and Continaf have handed out UTZ premiums to Nigerian farmers participating in the Cocoa Productivity and Quality Program, a public private partnership between IDH, Oxfam Novib, Continaf, Ferrero, Petra Foods Limited and Farmers’ Development Union (FADU) in Nigeria.
The partnership project started in April 2012 and is locally known as the ‘Kokodola’ project, meaning ‘cocoa brings wealth’ in the Yoruba language.
The premiums were handed to each farmer that supplied cocoa to the warehouse. The UTZ premiums to best performing farmers were handed out by Mr Arjen Thiescheffer from Continaf BV who pointed out the importance of trust in partnership. Addressing the farmers, he said: “Delivering on our promise on giving out the UTZ premium at the end of this season confirms the commitment of Continaf, Ferrero and Petra Foods to this project and to our most important partners, the farmers, producing the high quality certified cocoa!”
Mr Marc Donaldson from Petra Foods Limited ended the day by handing over a bag full of Kokodola chocolate bars to the farmer who had delivered the first certified cocoa. In his speech Mr Donaldson emphasised the three main outcomes of the project important for Petra Foods Limited: improved farmer income through increased productivity; improved quality for higher quality end product; and traceability of the beans back to the farmer.
Dr Peter Aikpokpodion, team leader of the Cocoa Transformation Agenda of the Federal Government of Nigeria said: “The occasion provided an opportunity for the farmers to better appreciate the current realities of the global cocoa trade and how the local value chain links with the global cocoa value chain, through the process of traceability and certification.“ He added: “I would like to register the Government’s appreciation of the efforts of Continaf BV towards supporting FADU, a local farmer organisation in mainstreaming their cocoa farmers into the global cocoa value chain. The tasting of chocolate produced from our farms showed the premium and first class quality of cocoa produced by Nigerian farmers. Given all the support, Nigerian farmers will continue to produce high quality cocoa beans needed for chocolate and other products. I will like to encourage further engagement with these farmers and more groups to deepen this process that should bring benefits to all partners in a both-win situation.“
The project aims to train and certify more 7500 farmers by 2015. Five main target areas were identified: improved cocoa production and quality; improved access to finance and input; professionalisation of farmer groups; address social issues, with a focus on gender and youth involvement, to empower vulnerable groups and improve livelihoods; set up and strengthen multi-stakeholder groups.
Since the start of the project, more than 1500 farmers have been trained in good agricultural, good environmental and good business practices. All of these farmers passed the certification audit and are now UTZ certified farmers. Farmers interviewed say they have observed significant yield improvements compared to previous seasons; some even say that it was up to a 100%. For 2013 another 2000 new farmers will be trained via farmer field schools. Demo plots in each of the intervention zones are now being installed to show the farmers the potential yield increase that could be achieved. Currently yields are as low as 250 to 300kg/ha. However by applying the right agricultural practices, inputs and planting material this could go up to 1000kg/ha.
Source: Confectionery News