Viewpoints

Viewpoints is a blog in which different writers express their views and opinions on current topics. A new blog post is published about once every four weeks.

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Nina Elomaa: Work with cocoa farmers

Nina Elomaa | 14.03.2016

In discussions related to the responsibility of cocoa, the question that often comes up is why matters do not proceed at the expected pace despite all the effort. During the past years, the entire cocoa sector has invested hundreds of millions of euros in improving the corporate responsibility of the value chain, but child labour, farmers’ low income level, lack of education and many other challenges are still emerging.  

 

Why do the matters not proceed at the desired pace? Are we doing wrong things or things in a wrong way? Or are we aiming at something that is not done easily? I believe that the latter is the case: the challenges are extensive and development takes time, but setting objectives high is important.

Without the objective, we at Fazer would hardly be where we are now. In 2010, we set ourselves the objective that in 2017 all the cocoa ingredient we use will be traceable and meet the criteria of responsible production. We exceeded the objective of 70% we had set for 2015 and this year our objective is that as much as 85% of the cocoa ingredient we use will meet the criteria. 

Cocoa is cultivated on small farms near the equator. The estimated number of farmers is 5-6 million. In order to ensure that the living conditions and the living standard of people who get their livelihood from cultivating cocoa will improve, we have to bear responsibility of including also those farmers who are in the weakest position and not included in the certification systems. This is why we support cocoa farmers in Nigeria and Ecuador through direct responsibility programmes in addition to purchasing certified ingredient. Programmes in the countries of origin are implemented in cooperation with our ingredient suppliers. Together, we have created a procedure that genuinely seems to generate results in farmer communities. Thanks to our joint work, some of the farmers are, for instance, now included in the certification systems.

I consider it necessary that now and in the future we have an open and critical approach to what we are doing across the entire sector and keep well in mind that in the responsibility work the focus must be on the farmers. The future will depend on how the large number of small farmers currently not included in the certification systems can improve their standard of living thanks to better harvests and higher prices while also taking account of the cultivation methods that are sustainable for the environment.

I hope that all chocolate lovers have confidence in us and the work we are doing. We do our utmost to exceed the expectations of our stakeholders also in the future.      

Nina Elomaa, Corporate Responsibility Director, Fazer Group

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