Here at Mars, we are encouraged to see the new changes to the Fairtrade Standard for Cocoa for Small Producer Organizations. At its core, our partnership with Fairtrade International shares the principle of putting farmers first. With regard to cocoa, yield and quality improvement offer significant income-generating opportunities for farmers, while at the same time protecting their livelihoods in the long term.
For too long, cocoa farmers have not received the necessary training and services to enable them to increase yields from current levels. In West Africa, it is currently estimated that yield is around 400Kg per hectare. Once proper training has been carried out and farmers have access to and are using improved planting material and fertilizer, yields of 1.5 ton per hectare are realistic to attain.
The new requirements from Fairtrade for producers to discuss productivity and quality when developing their Fairtrade Development Plans are accompanied by explicit encouragement for producers to prioritize at least 25% of their Fairtrade premiums to support programs within their Plans that promote productivity and quality enhancement. Here at Mars, we believe the investment of premiums in these areas will have a multiplier effect on farmers’ income; by investing in productivity and quality, farmers will improve the performance of their farms, thereby generating higher levels of income for many years to come.
It is essential that longevity of yields is considered, which is why Mars promotes a package of interventions including Good Agricultural Practices, improved planting material, and proper fertilizer use. It is essential not only to improve the performance of the cocoa trees on the farm through introducing better varieties and better management, but also to invest in soil-nutrient replenishment in order to enable higher yields from the plants to be maintained long into the future.
We are looking forward to our continued partnership with Fairtrade and in finding ways to make the necessary training and input supplies accessible to farmers at scale.
Congratulations to Fairtrade on yet another critical step on the journey to improving the lives of cocoa farmers!