Fairtrade International reports on progress to strengthen West Africa cocoa cooperatives
Fairtrade’s West Africa Cocoa Programme, which was launched in mid-2016 with an aim to provide training, coaching and advisory support to Fairtrade certified cocoa cooperatives and their farmer members, has released new findings showing an uptake in attendance and an increase in sales.
The inaugural report describes findings based on Fairtrade audit data, as well as cooperative management and farmer member surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019. Last year, there were more than 34,000 training attendances, a 32% increase from the year before.
All cooperatives receive training on the Fairtrade Standards, including areas such as democratic decision-making for using the Fairtrade Premium, fair contracts, and more. The report also includes data from a sub-set of around 30 Ivorian cooperatives that received an intensive and individualized package of services based on their specific needs, including additional trainings on governance, financial management, good agricultural practices, occupational health and safety, gender rights, income or crop diversification, and more.
“We are pleased to share this report, as part of our continued commitment to transparency both in terms of the efforts we are undertaking with this programme, as well as the results that farmers and cooperatives have reported so far,” said Edward Akapire, head of the West Africa region for Fairtrade Africa, which implements the programme.
“The feedback the report provides is essential for us in seeing where cooperatives are getting stronger, and where we need to focus more attention, whether at the level of training, consultation, advocacy, and more.”
He said key findings of the report include:
- Fairtrade cocoa cooperatives in Côte d’Ivoire that participated in the intensive sub-set sold both a higher volume of Fairtrade cocoa and had a higher percentage of sales on Fairtrade terms than other Fairtrade cocoa cooperatives. Fairtrade terms include the financial benefits of the Fairtrade Minimum Price when it is above market price, and the non-negotiable Fairtrade Premium on top of selling price.
- Cooperative managers reported a high level of knowledge in five key dimensions including good governance and management, and ensuring members adhere to Fairtrade Standards (with the aggregate score increasing from 88% in 2018 to 93% in 2019).
- 74% of cooperative farmer members reported that their cooperative had a good to excellent understanding of their priorities.
- Almost 9 out of 10 cooperatives report taking at least one action following trainings they received through the programme, such as rolling out a training for their own members, developing a strategic plan, or strengthening their management systems.
Several findings in the report also highlight areas of ongoing challenges, both for Fairtrade and for the cocoa sector as a whole, including the need to increase economic impact for farmers and to continue working towards expanding equality for women in cooperatives and in the community.
“The West Africa Cocoa Programme aims to enable stronger cooperatives, and also stronger trading partnerships, so everyone can work together toward shared goals,” said Jon Walker, Fairtrade International’s Senior Advisor for Cocoa. “This report contains early detailed monitoring results, but we welcome other entities, from commercial partners to other NGOs, to build on these findings, or work with us to improve our collective impact for farmers.”