Solidaridad brings farmers' voices to cocoa conference in Amsterdam

The cocoa commodity dominated discussions at the Chocoa 2019 conference in Amsterdam from 20 to 24 February 2019 and Solidaridad was there to support.

Voices of cocoa farmers matter. Having its “brains and boots” on the ground, Solidaridad places farmers first in addressing sustainability and livelihood issues around cocoa. At Chocoa 2019, Solidaridad facilitated firsthand perspectives from three farmers from Ghana, Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire, who have received direct support from Solidaridad’s cocoa programmes implemented in their countries.

With a strong operational presence in Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana, the world’s leading producers of cocoa, the Solidaridad team from West Africa and Europe also shared lessons from implementing cocoa sustainability programmes in West Africa at the annual event.

Perspectives from cocoa farmers in West Africa

Mawuse Hotor, a young female cocoa farmer from Ghana made a strong call on governments and development partners to invest in youth and facilitate access to land and credit for the teeming population who wish to venture into cocoa farming. She has been a beneficiary of the MASO programme implemented by five consortium partners led by Solidaridad, with funding from the MasterCard Foundation. 

Since 2017, Solidaridad has been implementing the Liberia Cocoa Sector Improvement Programme (LICSIP), which seeks to benefit more than 5,000 farmers in good agricultural practices and improved farm management. At the Chocoa event, Tommy Freeman, a cocoa farmer who is a beneficiary of LICSIP, recounted how the programme is helping him and his family to improve their livelihood and reduce poverty. He was hopeful that many more farmers could be taken out of poverty if they incorporated seasonal food crops in their cocoa farms, as espoused by the European Union-funded LICSIP programme.

With the potentially harmful effect the misuse of pesticides in cocoa production can have on farmers’ health, Solidaridad incorporates responsible pesticide application in its good agricultural practices taught farmers. However, more needs to be done. This was the case made by Oulai Angele, a farmer from Cote d’Ivoire at the Chocoa event, as she called for continuous training on pesticide use for cocoa farmers.

Chocoa side events

At a side event organized by Mondelez International at the conference, Solidaridad shared key accomplishments and lessons from implementing the Cocoa Life Programme in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. The intervention is benefiting more than 8,500 farmers to develop thriving cocoa growing communities including facilitating access to affordable finance. Participants, including private sector players like Albert Heijn supermarket, were upbeat about the prospects of the Mondelez Cocoa Life Programme.

The Solidaridad team also made significant contributions at a side event that discussed how impact investment can boost sustainability in the cocoa chain.

Solidaridad's core message at the annual event was that cocoa sustainability must go beyond controlling and auditing. It needs a holistic approach where all stakeholders along the supply chain will be confident and happy in participating in sustainability efforts.

Learn more about sustainability in cocoa

Published by: Solidaridad West Africa