More cocoa farmers benefit from Fairtrade training, according to new report

Fairtrade International has released the fourth edition of its West Africa Cocoa Programme (WACP) Monitoring Report that continued to show a significant growth in training in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Sierra Leone. In 2023, a total of 48,876 participants, of which 11,812 were female, 24 percent, participated in training. This represents a 22 percent increase when compared to data gathered in 2022.

The increase reflects the success of a “cascading” approach in which Fairtrade Africa trains a set of cooperative managers and farmers, who then bring the information back to their organisations and communities to replicate the trainings themselves. This expands the number of participants, while also entrenching the knowledge and skills more deeply within organisations.

Key training topics included human rights and environmental due diligence, deforestation, and traceability and transparency. These modules are specifically designed for the West African cocoa context and are regularly updated due to the evolving cocoa landscape.

In addition to an in-depth analysis of trainings, technical support, peer-to-peer learning, and sales for small producer organisations (SPOs), the report also focused on programmes and case studies. The Fairtrade Young Cooperative Managers Academy, active in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, provides young people with entrepreneurial skills via training, hands-on assignments, coaching and mentoring.

Dwomor Boahene, member of Asunafo North Cooperative Union, called the academy “a life-changing experience.” Along with being elected as a member of the Supervisory Council/ Control Committee within the union, Dwomor has trained women in surrounding communities in what he learned, so they are now running their own small businesses and they’ve also learned how to set up savings accounts.

In Côte d’Ivoire, the Women’s School of Leadership (WSOL), a training programme aimed at improving women’s basic leadership skills and the application of human rights provisions on gender issues, is showing signs of great progress.

Since 2017, 205 graduates have gone on to share their knowledge and skills with over 10,000 community members. The Women’s School of Leadership covers topics, such as personal development, gender, leadership, income diversification, project management, strategic negotiation, financial management, and entrepreneurship.

Dora Atiiga, a WSOL graduate, Kukuom Union, explained that at the WSOL she learned that as a woman she could be of great use to her household and her community. For example, there was no pre-school for children in Asibrem and therefore she decided to start one with the knowledge and skills she learned at the WSOL.

By starting this school, Atiiga has helped eased the burden on the parents in her community. They feel better knowing that their children are in a safe place near their homes while they are working on the farms. The enrolment at the school has increased from 14 children and two staff members to now 110 children and six staff members.

Fairtrade believe that cooperatives have a critical role in the sustainability and growth of the cocoa sector. For this to happen it is important that the farmers who belong to the cooperative participate in and trust the cooperative. In 2023, 99 percent of Ghanaian farmers interviewed and 92 percent of Ivorian farmers thought different opinions could be raised in their cooperative.

As the WACP grows positively and progressively, Fairtrade will continue to work with small producer organisations on the ground as they prepare for the next challenges that await them in the cocoa sector, especially the new regulatory demands of the EU Deforestation Regulation and the human and environmental rights due diligence. Fairtrade has partnered with experts, such as Satelligence, who will provide SPOs with access to high quality deforestation risk analysis.

The data for the WACP report was collected through interviews with small producer organisation management and household interviews with the farmer members of those small producer organisations. To learn more, read the full monitoring report here.

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