Sustainabilty

New trading platform for African cocoa puts farmers at centre of procurement

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

A buyer weighs cocoa beans at a collection point in Ghana. Pic: ACM
A buyer weighs cocoa beans at a collection point in Ghana. Pic: ACM

Related tags Cocoa Côte d'ivoire Ghana Sustainability

The influential and respected cocoa consultant Dr Kristy Leissle has launched a new marketing company that puts cocoa farmers’ perspectives at the centre of the procurement process so they can share in revenue from the sale of their beans.

Still under “agile development,” the platform was introduced to industry stakeholders at the recent Amsterdam Cocoa Week conference, where it was hailed as a “fantastic resource for linking markets, farmers, producer organizations, and cocoa operators.”

With more value added to “responsible procurement” in the cocoa sector, the African Cocoa Marketplace​ (ACM) pilot platform can help shape the future of cocoa trading by de-commoditizing cocoa and making the procurement process more transparent with revenues shared more equally among all actors in the value chain.

ACM is open to Africa-based suppliers of cocoa, semi-finished products, chocolate, and other value-added products, as well as buyers of cocoa and cocoa products in different locations.

Qualitative assurance solutions for African cocoa products

Leissle said ACM offers marketing and qualitative assurance solutions for African cocoa products and services “to enable farmers to achieve more secure business relationships and greater respect as the women and men at the heart of the chocolate value chain.”

Having spent a good portion of her career as a field researcher on cocoa farms across Africa – especially Ghana, where she lived for four years – Leissle, who is also a member of CN’s editorial board, said she has met countless farmers, traders, processors, and chocolate makers doing their best to maintain Africa’s cocoa excellence.

She also stated that it is “really, really challenging for these women and men to show that excellence to buyers.”

Leissle said she founded ACM, which has been in development for the past year, “to build upon her learnings of how to achieve authentic visibility into African cocoa value chains, and transform that knowledge  into a business that could scale, and create a new model for cocoa trust and tradeability.”

Transparency

Benjamin Setor Gbadago, who leads ACM's storytelling, research, and social media, said, ‘While developing the pilot, we have had to confront the issue of transparency. We are trying to understand as much as possible what the supply chain is like for the farmers and buyers.

“The problem is farmers have to provide all kinds of documentation to show proof of due diligence, but buyers rarely do. But the situation we are dealing with is a global challenge.

“Everyone should have to offer transparency. ‘We want to make it possible for [producer organizations] to connect with as many buyers as possible and transact business in a way that supports their vision. Soon, you will be able to type a few keywords into our app and find the business partners who align with your brand. Then, you can negotiate a fair and transparent price for both parties.”

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