Certification in the long run engenders multi-dimensional benefits that go beyond premiums and labels.
The process of certification of Cameroonian cocoa, which started in 2008, is being stepped up. Current policies and plans by the National Cocoa and Coffee Board, NCCB, are structured to increase output, with emphasis on sustainability. With this, certification becomes easier and enables the farmer to recover the extra cost by producing more quality cocoa sold at premium prices. Certification might not however bring about the much-needed rewards in the form of premiums nor guarantee ready demand as these depend solely on the market.
However, certification induces other benefits both on the national and international market. These include competitiveness, climate change mitigation, soil fertility and yield improvements and professionalization of stakeholders, especially farmers; as well as improvements in the overall well-being of rural communities. According to Michael Ndoping, General Manager of the National Cocoa and Coffee Board, over 25,000 farmers are today certified. Some 10,000 metric tonnes of certified cocoa beans are exported, with over 90 per cent shipped to Europe.
The country’s certification plan features as a key component of the 2020 Cocoa/Coffee Development Plan. Secondly, measures have been undertaken by government through NCCB and the private sector like the TELCAR Cocoa Ltd/Cargill Certification Programme in the Southwest Region. Also, more than 15,000 cocoa producers have been trained and are already UTZ certified. SIC CACAOS/Barry Callebault has also invested in certification schemes in the Centre and South West Regions, while Agro-produce Management Services Ltd and Theobroma has also embarked on certification schemes in the South West and Centre Regions.
Similarly, OLAM International and Olam Cameroon have been active in coffee certification in the North West Region. Considering the benefits of certification, Michael Ndoping believes the process is irreversible as it engenders multi-dimensional benefits that go beyond premiums and labels. To him, “It is here with us and we must do everything to embark on the process, otherwise we would miss this historical train.”