Everyone agrees that achieving sustainability is necessary for the long-term viability of the cocoa and chocolate sector. Successful sustainability initiatives – like organizations – are the ones that are able to improve and quickly respond to new challenges. The best way to improve is to listen to concerns and challenges from a wide variety of stakeholders and we were happy to see this in action at the International Workshop on Cocoa Certification in Cameroon a couple of weeks ago.
The International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) hosted The International Workshop on Cocoa Certification in Cameroon in June 2013 in conjunction with the Ministry of Commerce of Cameroon and the Office National du Café et du Cacao (ONCC). The goal of the workshop was to provide recommendations on the best way to achieve sustainability in the cocoa sector – recognizing the current scale of voluntary standards such as FairTrade, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ Certified.
Recognizing certification is here to stay and becoming more widely demanded among consumers, the key message from the conference was that stakeholders must come together and collaborate to ensure we put Farmers First and deliver greater widespread economic benefit. Farmers’ livelihoods need to be put at the center of the discussion. Participants also issued a call for greater harmonization among standards and procedures to reduce complexity – particularly for farmers. You can find the full list of recommendations here.
Alastair Child, Mars Cocoa Sustainability Director, was invited to represent the chocolate industry in the recommendations panel. It is clear that one of the main factors necessary to improve income at the farmer level is greater productivity. Companies present at the ICCO are actively working to achieve that. One concrete next step is to have industry and cocoa producing country governments discuss strategies that will lead to the enhancement of cocoa sustainability and the ways that national and international standards can be utilized in this effort. We were very glad to see that the Farmers First principle was followed throughout the discussions and that we are all working together to make certification a benefit that can help farmers and improve cocoa sustainability.