Rainforest Alliance (RA) has praised some of its partner licensed cocoa buying companies (LBCs) in Ghana for paying the mandatory $70 per ton Sustainability Differential premium to cocoa farmers.
RA, an international sustainability certification body, helps build partnerships to protect forests, improve livelihoods of farmers and forest communities, promote their human rights, and help mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis.
The organisation’s 2020 Certification Program is a global standard for monitoring and increasing responsible cocoa, tea and coffee production.
The program helps to improve internal processes and aids partners to attain full traceability, improve personal safety, storage procedures on and off the farm, community hygiene, and protect the environment.
To achieve this mission, the Rainforest Alliance partners with diverse allies around the world to drive positive change across global supply chains and in many of the most critically important natural landscapes.
The payment of the sustainability differential package by LBCs to partner farmers is an integral tool deployed by the organisation to incentivise them to uphold sustainability standards and protocols.
The Council Chairman for Cocoa Abrabopa Association (CAA), Ismaila Pomasi, announced at a regional durbar at Anyinam in the Eastern Region that the CAA is paying a total of GHC 9.2 million in premium packages to their farmers across their 39 cocoa operational areas in Ghana.
He explained to the gathering that the Sustainability Differential (SD) premium is an additional mandatory cash earned by farmers on their produce for the 2022/2023 crop season to motivate them to adhere to sustainable farming practices promoted by the Rainforest Alliance.
He mentioned that 8,000 cocoa farmers from their 39 cocoa operational areas benefited from the cash package, with each farmer receiving an additional GHC 52.50 per bag of certified cocoa sold to the CAA.
The Council Chairman indicated that all the beneficiary farmers were paid via mobile money and did not have to travel to the association office or any bank.
“We at Abrabopa have also embarked on other sustainability programs such as afforestation, accessible soil, the Sustainable Environment Project, child labour monitoring projects, and living income projects,” he said.
During the recent annual premium ceremony, the managing director of Federated Commodities Limited, Maria Adamu-Zibo, also announced the payment of GHC16 million in cocoa premium earnings to their cocoa farmers across the country for the 2022/2023 cocoa season.
The Managing Director indicated that her company will pay GHC50 to GHC64 for each bag of cocoa sold by farmers, which has been made possible through several partnerships, especially the Rainforest Alliance 2020 Certification Program.
“The youth need to see farming as a business opportunity where they can choose to farm or engage in auxiliary services such as labour support, input supply, alternative cocoa farming methods, organic cocoa, cocoa processing, and transformation,” she stated.
Country Director for Rainforest Alliance Ghana and Nigeria, Kwame Osei, speaking at the event organised by FEDCO, expressed his excitement about FEDCO and other companies’ commitment to demonstrating that it can be done and that it is important for it to be done.
“Most of the farmers live in extreme poverty with fewer alternative income-generating activities, and we believe that this is an additional income to motivate our farmers,” he added.
He explained that the premium is to encourage the farmers to work hard towards increasing production and also adopt best farming practices.
Rainforest Alliance requires a minimum Sustainability Differential (SD) premium of $70 per MT of cocoa.
“This is the cash per MT paid to the individual farmer. The SD is the additional payment producers receive in recognition of the choice they have made to farm to the Rainforest Alliance Standard.
“How they choose to use that payment is up to them. They can reinvest in the farm, use it for family needs, or cover other costs they may have.
We believe this is critical to creating a sustainable system where producers make their own choices. This will encourage farmers to produce better crops, adapt to climate change, increase productivity, and reduce costs.
“We will continue to ensure that the 2020 Certification Program changes the lives of farmers in cocoa-growing communities across Ghana,” Osei said.
The Director of Special Services for COCOBOD, Charles Amenyaglo, said that the regulator will continue to create an enabling environment for a vibrant cocoa industry in Ghana and admonished companies to desist from activities that hinder farmers from reaping their desired benefits from the 2020 Certification Program.
“I believe that such activities do not only deprive farmers of the benefits of their premium but also undermine the efforts of COCOBOD,” he said.
The farmers were grateful to Abrabopa and FEDCO for fulfilling their promise and making the payment process very simple.
“We can feel a new wind of change blowing in the cocoa value chain, and it’s going to bring massive improvements in our lives and the sector.
“We are excited about the fact that the companies are paying the premium packages; this will serve as a catalyst to ensure improved welfare as well as increasing government and private sector responsiveness for a sustained cocoa sector,” the farmers said.
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