Category Archives: scandal

How LBCs are illegally renting certification licenses to businessmen.

JoyNews investigations have uncovered how some Licensed Buying Companies and farmer society groups illegally rent their certification licenses to businessmen to enable them to export regular cocoa as certified ones.

It came to the fore that a certification license could be rented out for as high as a million cedis to businessmen.

Under the Cocoa Sustainability Initiative, farmers are paid extra premium for growing certified cocoa.

However, in many cocoa growing areas across the country, there’s a blatant abuse of the system giving rise to a situation where some LBCs do not pay the appropriate premium and also pass regular cocoa as certified.

In the latest Hotline Documentary dubbed Robbing The Poor, investigative journalist Kwetey Nartey probed these underhand dealings that make the farmer poorer defeating the purpose of the Cocoa Sustainability Programme by dealing with certification bodies as one of the managers of a new LBC.

In April 2019, UTZ, a cocoa certification standard body, sets up its Cocoa Assurance Plan which included a temporary ban on any new cocoa certifications in Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire. Applying for a new license is out of the question.

In this exposé, the investigative team decided to go on a hunt for licensed buying companies or interest groups in the cocoa sector willing to trade their license.

Hope Wordu, an official of the Business Assurance BV, a certification body, was willing to assist in the process to obtain a certification license through shady deals with officials of LBCs and CSO in the cocoa sector.

Hope who also works with two certification bodies took a commitment fee of $1000 to start his work.

He opened up on how he will work the documentation when UTZ/Rainforest Alliance lifts the ban to enable the undercover team to certify its own farm group for the certification process, part of which may be genuine, while a significant part will be falsified.

He even admitted his actions could attract sanctions from the certification standards body if caught. But, for him, the gains outweigh the odds.

Mr Wordu knows very well why farmers are being exploited by some LBCs that have signed up for the certification programme and admits that the 25% of cash premium must be given to farmers.

In all, we will spend fewer dollars on securing UTZ/Rainforest certificate if we engage his services.

We agreed to a commitment fee of $2,000 after signing a contract with him. A project management fee of $1,000 for 12 months, ten per cent of the total premium received from UTZ/RA certified procurement. He set up a meeting with Abraham, one of the senior managers of a licensed buying company in the country.

He elected Hope to be his spokesperson during the meeting. They expressed their willingness to give the undercover team their RainForest Alliance certificate to sign an agreement and ship certified cocoa to a ghost chocolate company.

Abraham pledges that the team can use their RainForest certificate and pay ¢140,000 as renewal fees. Hope steps in to reassure the team that this practice is general conduct among some licensed buying companies. He says some companies are actually trading with other companies’ certificates.

In this case, he adds that the undercover team needs to do a bit of training for the farmers to cover up the fraud.

To ascertain how deep this canker is in the industry, the undercover team requested a meeting with another cocoa interest group willing to sell their certificate to me. Hope introduces the team to officials of farmer-based association Kookoo Pa.

Its Executive Director, Fred Amponsah and one Ibrahim are were present at the discussion which centered on how much each would gain if the deal is pulled off successfully.

The conversation then shifted to the shady details of using their certificate to export cocoa to chocolate producers.

Hope admits that this act is illegal. But for him, in business, interest matters more than standards.

It will cost the team ¢1 million to own the certificate of Kookoo Pa farmer-based association. The executives presented the team with two certificates as proof of how serious they were in engaging the team.

o industry players, this issue should be a matter of concern.

Selling the certification standard is an affront to the integrity of the program. Country Director of UTZ/RA spells out what it could cost them if such evidence is presented.

The regulator, COCOBOD knows what this means to the industry. Head of Public Relations Fiifi Boafo says bending rules under the certification programme should not be condoned.

Clearly, it is those in charge of setting the standards for poor cocoa growers who are rather breaking the rules. But, this breach of protocols, meant to attract sanctions, is rather making these crooked officials better off, while farmers sink deep in poverty.

It may appear to be a simple case of poor implementation of the cocoa certification programme.

However, this is a complex, dubious, deliberate practice of sidestepping the processes and paying cash premiums to farmers for the purchase of conventional cocoa bagged as certified ones.

When JoyNews contacted officials of Olam Ghana and Nyonkopa cocoa buying companies they said their international office hasn’t given them any clearance to speak on the issue.

Eliho cocoa buying company said they are unable to speak to the issue and directed the investigative team to speak to the licensed cocoa buying association.

Officials of Kuapa Kooko also did not provide responses to the team after they had requested for a formal letter detailing questions we wish them to answer.

Footnote: Equator Commodities is not involved in any of the malpractice this expose sought to unravel. The investigative team in their dealings used the said name as a cover-up story to infiltrate the camp of those renting cocoa certificates.


Leave a comment

Posted by on 01/11/2020 in scandal, Travel


Tags: , , ,

Kinderarbeid en ontbossing.

Kinderarbeid en ontbossing: rechtstreekse gevolgen van extreme armoede.

Omdat de arme cacaoboer geen werkkrachten kan betalen, zet hij kinderen in. Jonge kinderen gaan niet naar school, maar leveren zware arbeid op het veld. Ongeschoolde kinderen zorgen er generatie na generatie voor dat de toekomst van de families er somber blijft uitzien. Ook het milieu zit met de gebakken peren. Door onder andere gebrek aan vorming, blijven de cacaoboeren dezelfde desastreuze ontbossingstechniek toepassen: “slash and burn”. Door tropisch woud in brand te steken en te kappen, maken ze plaats voor nieuwe cacaoplantages. Een ecologische ramp, ook voor de lokale fauna. Een leefbaar inkomen zal ervoor zorgen dat boeren kunnen overschakelen op agro-ecologische cacaoteelt. Dan zorgen oudere, jonge, hoge en lage bomen en andere beplanting samen voor een uiterst productief systeem.

Gevolgen van de ontbossing:

Verlies aan biodiversiteit: soorten verliezen hun habitat (of kunnen niet meer leven in kleine overblijvende delen van het woud). De populaties worden kleiner en sommige verdwijnen volledig.
Aantasting van de habitat: nieuwe wegen leiden tot een versnippering van het woud. De kleine gebieden die zo ontstaan, zijn gevoeliger voor droogte en voor brand.
Klimaatverandering: aangezien er minder bomen zijn, nemen de wouden minder CO2 op. Tegelijk wordt CO2 uitgestoten als gevolg van het verbranden van bomen.
Verlies van water: door de ontbossing vermindert de hoeveelheid water die de bomen uitscheiden (evapotranspiratie).
Maatschappelijke impact: minder wouden = minder voordelen voor de mensen die van deze wouden moeten leven.


Tags: , , ,

Deforestation & child labour in cocoa industry.


Tags: , , ,


SAN JOSE DE BARLOVENTO, Venezuela (Reuters) – Venezuela cocoa trader Freddy Galindo has battled highway robberies, kidnappings of family members and declining quality in his 19 years exporting the nation’s legendary beans.


via Venezuela cocoa growers fear new pest: the government | Reuters

Venezuela cocoa growers fear new pest: the government | Reuters


Tags: , , , , , ,



via Hoe onze chocoladeverslaving leidt tot illegale kap regenwoud – OneWorld

Hoe onze chocoladeverslaving leidt tot illegale kap regenwoud – OneWorld


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Chocolate’s dark secret. (2017/09)

Chocolate’s Human Impact 
Between five and six million people, largely
smallholders, grow cocoa around the world.
In Ivory Coast, cocoa farmers earn around 50
cents per day and in Ghana around 84 cents
per day. Farmers are shortchanged since
chocolate’s revenue and profits are strongly
skewed towards traders and manufacturers.

The revenue distribution has only gotten worse:
In the 1980s, farmers received an average of
16% of the value of a chocolate bar. today (2017/09), that
number is 6.6%. In comparison, 35% goes to
chocolate companies and 44% goes to retailers
like supermarkets.

Additionally, the chocolate industry is notorious
for labor rights abuses including slave labor and
child labor. According to the US Department of
Labor, “21 percent more children are illegally
laboring on cocoa farms in Ghana and The
Ivory Coast than five years ago.” An estimated
2.1 million West African children are still
engaged in dangerous, physically taxing cocoa
harvesting. Rather than eliminate the problem,
the industry has merely pledged to reduce child
labor in Ivory Coast and Ghana by 70% by 2020.


Tags: , , , ,



This morning I read an interesting report called “How The Cocoa Industry Destroys National Parks” by Etelle Higonnet, Marisa Bellantonio and Glenn Hurowitz. This 20-pages publication was randomly handed to me during the FCIA event in New York and it opened my eyes on the environmental issues surrounding the cocoa industry in Ivory Coast 🌱🔥
The report focuses on Ivory Coast’s national parks and protected areas that have been cleared of forest and replaced with cocoa growing operations. Natural paradises that should remain untouched and prosperous are deforested to grow cocoa in full sun to boost short-run productivity.
“Illegal deforestation for cocoa is an open secret throughout the entire chocolate supply chain” states the report.
Much of Ivory Coast was actually covered by forests when it achieved independence in 1960, and boasted one of the highest rates of biodiversity in Africa, with thousands of endemic species 🌴🐒
However, the chocolate industry’s practices have eliminated much of this forest and had caused Ivorian wildlife populations to plummet. Addressed as main culprits (among predatory middlemen and corrupted cooperatives) are large agribusinesss companies like Olam, Cargill and Barry Callebaut, responsible for creating a market for illegally grown cocoa 👤💱
Although aware of the hundreds of acres destroyed to supply the demand from big manufacturers in the US and EU, these companies have launched small-scale sustainability initiatives that have done little to nothing to resolve the issue.
“The tragedy of this deforestation is that it is entirely avoidable. Instead of driving investment in expansion into forests or national parks, cocoa companies should be focusing their resources on shade-grown systems, water distribution and grafting techniques that can actually promote higher average productivity over the full life cycle of a cocoa tree.” concludes the report.
Once again, this is the neverending battle between quality/patience/ethics VS quantity/speed/greediness.
As a consumer, ask yourself: which side are you supporting with your money? 👈👉
#chocolate #environment #nature #africa #dirtymoney

via Sharon Terenzi op Instagram: “The dark side of chocolate. This morning I read an interesting report called “How The Cocoa Industry Destroys National Parks” by Etelle…”

“The dark side of chocolate. This morning I read an interesting report called “How The Cocoa Industry Destroys National Parks”.


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Cocoa Challenging Violence

Feeling inspired and empowered by this documentary. It’s a brave and honest piece that gives a voice to all Colombians that keep working the Land, despite all the horrors that, for generations, the war has carved in their memory. Recommended to all of you that keep doing what you love, because you haven’t stopped believing in a better tomorrow.


El Cacao: una producto de una lucha.

via Chocolate of Peace – English — Chocolate de Paz


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Industrial chocolate bars, busted!


via Forbrugerrådet Tænk tests dark chocolate for cadmium, lead and mineral oils


Tags: , , , , ,

Ghana’s Illegal Galamsey Gold Mining Affecting Cocoa Farmers, Chocolate Supply


via Ghana’s Illegal Galamsey Gold Mining Affecting Cocoa Farmers, Chocolate Supply


Tags: , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: