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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.

source: https://www.myjoyonline.com/news/national/robbing-the-poor-how-lbcs-are-illegally-renting-certification-licenses-to-businessmen/

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

 

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Fairtrade helpt koffie (cacao)boeren nauwelijks.

De teelt van Fairtrade-koffie heeft nauwelijks invloed op de inkomenssituatie van de koffieboeren in Oost-Afrika. Men kan dit doortrekken tot bij de cacaoboeren die het zelfde lot ondergaan.

Dat is de conclusie van een studie door de universiteit van Nijmegen, die werd uitgevoerd op vraag van de Nederlandse ontwikkelingsorganisatie Solidaridad. De onderzoekers onderzochten de situatie gedurende vier jaar bij zevenhonderd koffieboeren in Kenia, Oeganda en Ethiopië. Het is de eerste diepgaande studie naar het effect van de certificering voor de boeren op het terrein. De boeren verbouwen de koffie die verkocht wordt met certificatie van een Fairtrade-label zoals Max Havelaar, of van Utz. Dat laatste label garandeert geen minimumprijs, zoals Fairtrade, maar helpt de boeren om hun opbrengst zelf te verhogen. De voornaamste conclusie is dat het effect op het inkomen van de boeren ‘bescheiden en nogal beperkt’ is. Dat komt onder meer doordat de meeste boeren niet alleen koffie verbouwen. In Kenia haalt de gemiddelde boer een derde tot een kwart van zijn inkomen uit de koffieteelt. Bovendien kan de markt maar een beperkte hoeveelheid gecertificeerde koffie aan, terwijl er veel meer wordt verbouwd. ‘Dat betekent dat maar een negende tot een twaalfde van het inkomen afkomstig is van gecertificeerde koffie’, aldus het rapport. De onderzoekers stellen ook vast dat Utz over het algemeen voordeliger is voor de boeren dan een Fairtrade-label. De prijzen die de boeren krijgen zijn hoger, tenminste in Kenia. Bovendien bestaat bij toepassing van de Fairtrade-certificaten het gevaar dat de boeren steeds meet koffie gaan verbouwen en er daardoor te afhankelijk van worden. Het onderzoek toont aan dat de boeren die ook groenten voor de lokale markt verbouwen, in financieel opzicht beter tegen een stootje kunnen.Ook stellen de onderzoekers vast de het effect van certificering na verloop van tijd kleiner wordt, omdat niet gecertificeerde boeren hun prductiemethoden ook gaan verbeteren en zo hogere prijzen krijgen. In Oeganda verdwijnt het effect zelfs helemaal. Wel blijkt dat de Utz-boeren een voorsprong kunnen behouden ten opzichte van Fairtrade-boeren.

KENNIS

Uit het onderzoek blijkt verder dat de certificering weinig effect heeft op hoe de boeren omgaan met risico en investeringen. De positie van vrouwen verandert evenmin sterk. De afhankelijkheid van opkopers neemt niet af. Van de prijs die in de winkel wordt betaald, gaat 6 tot 8 procent naar de boeren. Dat percentage blijft constant. De onderzoekers concluderen dat de opbouw van kennis over landbouwmethoden het waardevolste element is van de certificering. Omdat de certificeringsorganisaties alleen in zee gaan met coörperaties, is het moeilijk om een onderscheid te maken tussen het effect van de coörperatie en van het certificaat. De certificering is er niet in geslaagd om de boeren ervan te overtuigen dat de koffieteelt op lange termijn een winstgevende  activiteit kan zijn, concludeert het rapport. ‘Veel koffieboeren hebben liever niet dat hun kinderen de plantage overnemen’. De ontwikkelingsorganisatie Solidaridad gaat de conclusie gebruiken om haar beleid bij te sturen. ‘Certificatie en training alleen zijn niet voldoende. We moeten een bredere strategie toepassen om de koffieteelt voor  jongere boeren aantrekkelijk te maken’, zegt Karugu Macheria van Solidaridad Oost-Afrika in een persbericht. ‘Deze belangrijke studie heeft implicaties voor de de wereldwijde koffiesector.’

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English version

 
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Posted by on 02/04/2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Chocolate Forever 2

This book explores the knowledge needed for achieving a sustainable cocoa chain and the gatekeepers of thise knowledge. It tells the story mainly from a Dutch perspective, focusing on the knowledge needs of actors involved in cocoa in the Netherlands, and their knowledge partners.

…Fifteen years from now (…) cocoa beans will be transported in the most sustainable way: in mega-bulk ships sailing towards Amsterdam! The port of Amsterdam has introduced a reduced sea harbor tariff for certified beans, to further promote their production and use. Storage and trans-shipment of beans is being done in the most fficient way, as bulk cranes with energy efficient motors and innovative flywheels offload beans. The vermin in the warehouses is eradicated without using environmentally harmful substances. The space in the harbour is also being used as efficiently as possible; as many tonnes as possible have to be used per square meter for trans-shipment and storage. Transport from the warehouses to the processors mainly takes place on barges because of their low CO2 emission and contribution to reducing traffic jams (…)

This story illustrate the vision of James Hallworth, Commercial Manager Bulk Logistics at the Port of Amsterdam, who describing how the cocoa transport storage and trans-shipment in the Netherlands might look fifteen years from now. The Port of Amsterdam is the world’s largest cocoa harbour and the Region of Amsterdam (Zaanstreek) is home to the most complete cocoa network in the world.

This commitment raises a set of questions, regarding the kind of knowledge needed for achieving a sustainable cocoa chain and the gatekeepers of this knowledge. A sustainable cocoa chain involves a process of continuous improvement. How can one ensure that the right knowledge is being developed at the right moment and, in particular, that the available knowledge will be effectively used by the people who need it the most? One must take into consideration the different perspectives on sustainability of the cocoa chain, as well as the different interests covered by the ‘knowledge agenda’, i.e. whose interests are included and whose are left out?

The general aim of this publication on sustainable cocoa in the Netherlands is to examine the question of knowledge and the availability of expertise in the country, and to further compare Dutch cocoa knowledge with the knowledge in the broader international spere. This comparison will serve to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the Dutch cocoa knowledge infrastructure and to provide recommendations for improving its international position.

The publication: This book is part of a wider effort that seeks to achieve sustainable cocoa consuption in the Netherlands within fifteen years (Cocoa that will fall under sustainable cocoa includes for ex. certified organic cocoa, Fair Trade cocoa, Rainforest alliance, and cocoa certified by UTZ CERTIFIED) and to contibute to the global sustainable cocoa economy (people, planet profit). It examens the status of the Dutch knowledge sector and how it can strengthen its knowledge base.The publication aims to present all themes and questions in a way that will do justice to the complexity of the topic, without engaging in in-depth scientific analysis of the subject matter.

Structure of the publication: Chapter 2- Knowledge on sustainable value chains. Chapter 3- The position of the Dutch cocoa sector in the international cocoa chain. Chapter 4- The issues at stake. Chapter 5- Knowledge demand versus supply. Chapter 6- What do the Dutch know? Chapter 7- Recommendations for a sustainable knowledge base.

 

 

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Gender & Certified Value Chains.

This is what I learned and wanted to share after seeing the dvd received at the Origin Chocolate Event Amsterdam.

Global standard-setting organisations fro example, organic, Fair-Trade, Utz, 4C, Rainforest Alliance aim to improve the social, envirinmenttal, economic, and health and safety conditions for agricultural productions and processing. These organisations work to continuously improve their standards contributing to sustainable and inclusive value chain development.

The featured film captures key learning and experiences from a workshop on gender equity in global certified coffee, tea and cocoa value chains. It includes interviews with representatives from producer organisations, support services, standard setting organisations and certification bodies as well as the private sector.

Learning session in Kenia on gender & certified value chains.

What are the challenges?

If we look at like certification like organic, the standard that is audited by an organisation like Soil Association, we find that mainly it looks at the good agricultural practices. But when you look further, at the social aspects such as equity and non discrimination plus other social aspects they are not addressed in the standards. And until such aspects have been captured in the standards, thant’s the only written fact that they will be implemented uniformly across of the production sites, wheter in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania or anywhere else in the world.

So in fact that, as of now, various growers may come up with their own initiatives and implement but that may not be replicated in other growing sites across the various countries where certification is implemented.

“Social issues are not addressed adequately in many global standards.”

Local initiatives can be a source of learning for further development of standards.

Thank to Anna Lavan, research en development of the KIT, www.kit.nl  sharing me the DVD Gender&Certfied Value Chains.

Also I would like to share the following www.directcacao.org  DIRECT CACAO A new voice for fine cacao and chocolate.

Direct is a new organisation seeking to preserve and protect fien cacao through respect, value and mutual benefit for consumers and chocolate producers.

We believe that the only way to guarantee the future of fine cacao, and so the future of great fine chocolate, is by making sure that the farmers are properly rewarded for the cacao they produce. This can only be achieved through close links between the consumer, chocolate company and cacao farmer.

We aim to create a sustainable cycle based on quality and taste through short-chain Directly Traded fiencacao. We believe taht this is essential for preserving the environment, the livelihoods of farmer and for creating great tasting chocolate.

We NOT believe that ethical labeling schermes can achieve this and in fact can actually be detrimental to a fair and equitable trade in cacao.

Direct Cacao brings together chocolate makers and companies, chocolatiers, cacao growers and companies and independents to begin a new relationship based on a true respect for fine cacao.

 

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