Chocolate processor Barry Callebaut has paid €2.4m in premiums to Ivory Coast cooperatives in Africa for Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa.
The move follows last week’s announcement of the company’s first collaboration with the Rainforest Alliance in Cameroon .
More than 45,000 farmers from 45 cooperatives in the region will keep half of the cash, while the rest is used to provide services for farmer members or community facilities.
The money has been paid in return for the delivery of more than 15,000t of certified cocoa during the 2011-2012 cocoa season.
A local celebration was held to present the payments in Yamassoukro on August 23, attended by local dignitaries, representatives from government ministries, cooperative leaders and farmers.
“This event marks another important milestone in Barry Callebaut’s long history of working in partnership with farmers in Cote D’Ivoire to improve yields and quality while growing cocoa in a sustainable way,” said Steven Retzlaff, president, global sourcing & cocoa, for Barry Callebaut.
Barry Callebaut has been training the recipients of the premium in sustainable cocoa production as part of the company’s Cocoa Horizons sustainability initiative designed to boost productivity.
“We are proud to recognise these cocoa farmers and cooperatives in Cote D’Ivoire who are working to conserve biodiversity, to prevent soil erosion and water contamination, and thereby safeguard their land and natural resources for future generations,” said Mercedes Tallo, director of sustainable value chains at the Rainforest Alliance.
“With the continued engagement of growers, cooperatives and companies like Barry Callebaut in promoting and applying sound land use practices, we can together make important strides towards ensuring sustainable livelihoods for cocoa farmers and their families.”
The behaviour of chocolate manufacturers in the Ivory Coast region has been heavily scrutinised in recent years as child labour practices in the region have received wide media coverage.
Many large confectionery brands, such as Mars and Kraft Foods/Cadbury have made commitments to invest in sustainable and fair trade in the region, while consumer groups persist in pressuring others to do more.